Sunday, September 28, 2008

Analysis: US, Pakistan ties too important to fail

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Beyond the bullets and the bluster, the United States and Pakistan need each other too much to allow tensions along the Afghan border to derail their relationship.(The Washington Post)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

House Approves Nuclear Trade Deal With India

By REUTERS The agreement, which would end a three-decade ban on nuclear trade with India, passed the House by a margin of 298 to 117.(The New York Times)

Pakistan's Faith in Its New Leader Is Shaken

By JANE PERLEZ Pakistan is struggling with a financial meltdown and terrorism that has hurt confidence in the government. (The New York Times)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Iran and Pakistan Issues Split Candidates

By DAVID E. SANGER The candidates delved for the first time into whether to threaten military action inside Pakistan or against Iran. (The New York Times)

Pakistan's New Leader Denies Firefight as Mullen Confirms It

By Colum Lynch
NEW YORK, Sept. 26 -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday denied that American and Pakistani forces exchanged fire along the Afghanistan border this week, even as the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged that the two sides engaged in a brief firefight.(The Washington Post)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pakistani and American Troops Exchange Fire

By ERIC SCHMITT Ground troops exchanged fire along the border with Afghanistan on Thursday after the Pakistanis shot at two American helicopters.(The Washington Post)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

US bans all personnel from big Pakistan hotels

NEW YORK -- The State Department has banned all U.S. personnel from staying at or even visiting major hotels in Pakistan's capital and two other cities over fears of new attacks following the deadly truck bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad.()

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

U.S., Afghans and Pakistanis Consider Joint Military Force

By Ann Scott Tyson
Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States are discussing the creation of a joint military force to attack insurgent sanctuaries on both sides of the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border, a senior Afghan official said yesterday.(The Washington Post)

Pakistanis say suspected US drone shot down

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani troops and tribesman shot down a suspected U.S. military drone close to the Afghan border Tuesday, three intelligence officials said.(The Washington Post)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did Pakistan soldiers shoot at US helicopters?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- U.S. helicopters flew into Pakistan's militant-infested border region, but returned to Afghanistan after troops and tribesmen opened fire, intelligence officials said Monday. Washington denied the account.(The Washington Post)

Pakistan, Afghanistan discuss joint border force

By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistan and Afghanistan are discussing a possible joint force to combat militants on both sides of their border near Pakistan's tribal region, which has become a safe haven for al Qaeda and other groups, a senior Afghan official said on Monday.(The Washington Post)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

21 Foreigners Among Dead in Islamabad Suicide Bomb Blast

By Shaiq Hussain and Pamela Constable
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 21 -- Pakistani officials said Sunday that 21 foreigners, including two Americans stationed at the U.S. Embassy, were among the victims of a massive suicide truck bombing Saturday night that destroyed a luxury Marriott hotel in the capital.(The Washington Post)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bombing at Hotel in Pakistan Kills at Least 40

By CARLOTTA GALL A huge truck bombing at Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel was one of the worst acts of terrorism in Pakistan’s history. (The New York Times)

Bombing Is Marriott's Biggest Loss In 81 Years

By Michael S. Rosenwald
As a symbol of Western capitalism around the world, Marriott International's hotels have been hit by terrorists before.(The Washington Post)

Blast Kills Dozens in Pakistan

By Shaiq Hussain and Pamela Constable
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 20 -- A massive suicide truck bomb ripped through a luxury hotel in the Pakistani capital Saturday night, killing at least 60 people and wounding more than 250 as the building was engulfed in flames, officials said.(The Washington Post)

Friday, September 19, 2008

U.S. sees threat from Afghan-Pakistan border area

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistan is not yet equipped to combat the militant threat emanating from the remote area bordering Afghanistan, a senior Bush administration official said on Friday amid stepped-up U.S. strikes in that area.(The Washington Post)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

'06 Blueprint Leak Intensifies Concerns Over U.S.-India Deal

By Joby Warrick
In January 2006, an Indian government agency purchased newspaper ads seeking help in building an obscure piece of metal machinery. The details of the project, available to bidders, were laid out in a series of drawings that jolted nuclear weapons experts who discovered them that spring.(The Washington Post)

Pakistan: No compromise on US cross-border strikes

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's prime minister said Thursday that strikes by foreign forces were "counterproductive," as officials said there was no warning about the latest U.S. missile strike in the Pakistani northwest.(The Washington Post)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

U.S. Strike Reported as Mullen Consults Pakistanis

By Pamela Constable and Shaiq Hussain
KABUL, Sept. 17 -- A new reported U.S. missile strike inside Pakistan on Wednesday threatened to undermine American efforts to defuse a growing confrontation with Pakistan over aggressive U.S. military actions against Islamist extremists in the country's turbulent northwest border region.(The Washington Post)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Defeating al-Qaeda's Air Force: Pakistan's F-16 Program in the Fight Against Terrorism

Donald Camp, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Statement Before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on South Asia Washington, DC

September 16, 2008

Chairman Ackerman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to address you today on Pakistan’s F-16 program.

On February 18 of this year, the Pakistani people went to the polls and elected moderate leaders who are working to set a stable, prosperous, democratic path for Pakistan into the future. The journey along this path is going to be a difficult one as Pakistan faces increasing economic challenges and the serious threat of growing instability in the border regions. The United States wants to see this new government succeed, not only because it represents the desires of the Pakistani people but because we believe that a moderate government with a democratic mandate is the most effective partner in the fight against terrorists and violent extremism.

During Prime Minister Gillani’s visit to Washington in late July, you saw the United States and Pakistan committed to maintaining and strengthening our broad-based partnership, and the United States committed to steps that can help Pakistan deal with economic problems and increase its effectiveness in countering the extremist threat. The Administration’s request to re-direct Foreign Military

Financing in 2008 and beyond to support F-16 Mid-Life Updates speaks directly to these two commitments. Updates to Pakistan’s F-16s will make these aircraft far more effective against terrorist targets, while helping with these payments will provide the newly-elected Pakistani government valuable fiscal flexibility as they deal with rising food and fuel prices.
Mr. Chairman, my colleagues and I represent the Administration’s commitment to the F-16 program and we ask for your support to approve the Administration’s request to re-direct the remaining $110 million in 2008 Foreign

Military Financing for the Mid-Life Update and an additional $142 million in the future. The new Government of Pakistan stands behind these requests and has committed to assume subsequent payments with national funds beginning in December 2009.
F-16s Defined U.S.-Pakistan Engagement

The sale of F-16s to Pakistan became a transformative element of the U.S.- Pakistan bilateral relationship over 20 years ago, and this historical context is important to understand and remember as we determine how to handle the questions of F-16 financing today. Not only a component of Pakistan’s national defense, the F-16 has become an iconic symbol of our bilateral relationship and our commitment to each other.

In the early 1980s, the U.S. government initially agreed to sell Pakistan 111 F-16 aircraft. This decision was influenced by our close partnership with Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. By October 1990, however, Pressler sanctions were imposed when President (George Herbert Walker) Bush was unable to certify that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear weapon. The Pressler sanctions led to a decade-long suspension of security assistance to Pakistan and a deficit of trust between our two countries that we are still working to overcome. The suspension of our security assistance programs required under Pressler meant the suspension and eventual cancellation of an additional sale of F-16 aircraft that would have augmented the 40 F-16s Pakistan purchased in 1982. That cancellation has been viewed as a symbol of the collapse of our relationship during the 1990s, a period which remains highly emotional for many Pakistanis. The suspension of our security assistance also precluded Pakistani military officers from attending U.S. military schools, which has produced nearly a generation of Pakistani military officers who have not traveled to the United States to learn sideby- side with American officers.

September 11 Re-defined Our Relationship
As you know, Mr. Chairman, the September 11, 2001 attacks resulted in a profound shift in U.S. policy towards South and Central Asia. The terrorist attacks on our homeland led to a strategic choice by the Government of Pakistan to support U.S. efforts to remove the Taliban regime from power in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s decision gave us the support of a critical neighbor, enabled us to undertake Operation Enduring Freedom and has helped to sustain coalition operations over the last seven years, with Pakistan’s road networks and port facilities serving as the critical supply line for our military forces in Afghanistan. - 3 -

In return, after September 11th, the Administration committed to reinvigorating the security relationship between our two countries. This led to Pakistan’s designation as a Major Non-NATO Ally in 2004 and the President’s commitment to provide Pakistan a $3 billion assistance package over five years, evenly divided between security and development. Soon after, the Administration sought to overturn decades of bitterness by agreeing to sell Pakistan a new generation of F-16s and providing it with the ability to upgrade its existing fleet. This agreement was formally codified in September 2006 when Pakistan signed three separate Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) that constitute the core of Pakistan’s F-16 program. Prior to signing the Letters of Offer and Acceptance, the Administration notified Congress that the sale would serve to stabilize the conventional military balance in South Asia, provide Pakistan the ability to conduct Close Air Support in ongoing operations in the Global War on Terror and restore Pakistan’s confidence in the enduring nature of our relationship with them.

The Purchase
Pakistan had originally planned a total purchase valued at $5.1 billion, almost all of it in national funds. The 2005 Kashmir earthquake and subsequent financial constraints caused Pakistan to reduce the number of new planes it wanted to purchase from 36 to 18, which lowered the overall value of the deal to approximately $3.1 billion. The 18 new planes are valued at $1.4 billion, with the remainder of the $3.1 billion dedicated to associated munitions (valued at approximately $641 million) and 46 Mid-Life Update (MLU) kits for Pakistan's existing F-16 fleet (estimated to cost $891 million). Additionally, the United States has provided Pakistan with 14 F-16s designated as Excess Defense Articles (EDA).

Pakistan will use reprogrammed funds to purchase the Mid- Life Update kits to upgrade the Excess Defense Article F-16s delivered over the last two and a half years. The Mid-Life Update case was written and agreed upon by the U.S. and Pakistan as a "mixed funding" case, allowing Pakistan to use $108.395 million in FY 2006 FMF credits on the overall $891 million case. Pakistan’s subsequent request to use additional Foreign Military Financing has led us to the current request to re-direct funds in FY 2008 and beyond. The Pakistanis have requested that the Administration allow it to use a portion of its FY 2008 and FY 2009 Foreign Military Financing Presidential commitment, totaling $368M, for the Mid-Life Update program. They have also - 4 - committed to making all additional payments beyond this request with national funds. Even with this Pakistani request, over 83% of the F-16 program will have been funded through Pakistani national funds. It is important to note that Pakistan has a consistent payment record on the three other Foreign Military Sales cases associated with this sale and historically on all other Foreign Military Sales cases.

F-16s and theWar on Terror
F-16s provide a critical counterterrorism capability to Pakistan and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has recently made extensive use of its aging F-16 fleet to support Pakistan Army operations in the Swat Valley and in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). According to information furnished to us by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, the PAF flew 93 sorties in August 2008 in operations against the Taliban. However, their current model F-16 can be used for close air support missions only in daylight and good visibility. They cannot be employed at night, a fact not lost on the Taliban and other extremist groups being targeted.

U.S. F-16s use day-night, all weather, air-dropped precision-guided munitions to great effect in Iraq; and we believe Pakistan should be able to use this capability to achieve our shared goals in countering militants along its western border. The new and enhanced F-16s will provide Pakistan the ability to attack fleeing targets with precision during all weather conditions. The Mid-Life Update will enable the Pakistan Air Force to use an advanced targeting pod that provides the ability to generate ground position data that can then be used to direct guided munitions to a target. In addition, the Mid-Life Update comes with an advanced communications system that enables real time communication with ground forces – a critical capability for Close Air Support missions. Combined, these systems provide Pakistan’s Air Force with the technological capability to conduct precision close air strikes against Al Qaeda, Taliban, and associated terrorist targets in the FATA, as well as provide non-traditional Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (NTISR), a critical enabler in a counterinsurgency campaign. The Pakistan Air Force will receive considerable training associated with the F-16 cases including specific F-16 pilot and maintenance training for their F-16 technicians. We are currently finalizing a comprehensive training plan with us that will include Close Air Support, Combat Search and Rescue, aerial refueling, and night flying operations. This will also mean an improved ability to limit civilian casualties, which will in turn lead to greater willingness on the part of the Pakistani military to employ the F-16s in a counter-terrorism role.

It is also important to note that Pakistan’s request to use Foreign Military Financing for the Mid-Life Update program will not detract from investments in other equipment that is being employed in direct support of ongoing military operations in the Tribal Areas. Our original congressional notification for the use of $247 million of Pakistan’s Foreign Military Financing allocation stated that Pakistan would use this assistance to finance the refurbishment of Pakistan Navy P-3C aircraft, to purchase Pakistan Air Force Command and Control articles and services, tactical radios for Pakistan’s Army, TOW missiles and to modernize and maintain Pakistan’s Cobra helicopters. Twenty million dollars of the $247 million will still be used to purchase TOW missiles and tactical radios. In addition, the Cobra helicopters, for which there are signed Letters of Offer and Acceptance, will be financed through Pakistan’s remaining FY 2008 Foreign Military Financing allocation of $50.57 million, which will be released pending expiration of the congressional notification period.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to emphasize the strategic importance of Pakistan to U.S. interests, not just regionally, but globally. While the F-16 plays an important role in Pakistan’s efforts to defeat extremism, it also has achieved strategic importance as a symbolic barometer of the overall state of our relationship and trust between our militaries. Given the tangible and symbolic importance of Pakistan’s F-16 program we request Congressional support to redirect the remaining $110 million in Foreign Military Financing in Fiscal Year 2008 and up to $142 million in the future. I thank you for this opportunity to appear before this Committee. My colleagues and I are happy to respond to your questions at this point. Thank you. (Courtesy: US Department of State)

Lawmakers question using aid for Pakistan planes

WASHINGTON -- U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday promised close scrutiny of a Bush administration request to use hundreds of millions of dollars in anti-terrorism aid to upgrade Pakistan's aging fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter planes.(The Washington Post)

Top U.S. Military Official in Pakistan for Unexpected Visit

By Pamela Constable
KABUL, Sept. 16 -- The top U.S. military official flew unexpectedly into Pakistan on Tuesday night for meetings with senior officials there amid an escalating confrontation over recent U.S. military incursions into Pakistan in pursuit of al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists.()

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pakistan says troop fire turns U.S. helicopters back

By Zeeshan Haider
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani security officials said on Monday that troops had fired on U.S. military helicopters and forced them to turn back to Afghanistan, but both the Pakistani and American militaries denied the incident.(The Washington Post)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Washington Post urges Bush administration to continue strikes inside Pakistan

The War in Pakistan
U.S. attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets are risky -- and necessary.

Sunday, September 14, 2008; Page B06

FOR MORE than six years, the Bush administration has relied on Pakistan's government and army to combat Taliban and al-Qaeda networks based in the country's tribal territories along the border with Afghanistan. The result has been the strengthening of both networks in the rugged and virtually lawless region; a steady increase in Taliban assaults on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan; and ominous reports that al-Qaeda is using its bases to prepare for new attacks on Western targets, including the United States. By now it is clear that Pakistani army and security forces lack the capacity to defeat the extremists -- and may even support some of the Taliban commanders. Pakistan's army has arranged truces with some of the extremists that don't preclude them from fighting in Afghanistan. U.S officials say that the Pakistani intelligence service was complicit in a July 7 suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.

In these circumstances President Bush's reported decision in July to step up attacks by U.S. forces in the tribal areas was both necessary and long overdue. According to a count by the Associated Press, there have been seven missile strikes by remotely controlled Predator aircraft in the past month, as well as one ground assault by helicopter-borne American commandos. At least two of the targets have been Taliban commanders reportedly considered friendly by Pakistani intelligence -- including Jalaluddin Haqqani, the alleged author of the Indian embassy bombing. The results of the attacks are hard to gauge, since U.S. officials refuse to discuss them; reports from the remote areas, often by sources sympathetic to the Taliban, frequently allege that most or all of the casualties are civilians.

To its credit, the Bush administration has tried to execute this shift in tactics while preserving its alliance with the Pakistani army and the new civilian government. It's a tricky balancing act: The latest attacks have prompted outraged public statements by the army commander in chief and the prime minister, and there have even been threats to retaliate against American forces. But army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani was briefed by senior U.S. commanders at a summit meeting on an aircraft carrier last month, and his forces still are in line for billions of dollars in U.S. aid. Pakistan's newly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, also will desperately need U.S. support to extract the country from a worsening economic crisis and move forward with an ambitious program to counter extremism in the tribal territories with economic development.

There's a risk that the missile strikes will prompt a breach between the U.S. and Pakistani armies, or destabilize Mr. Zardari's democratically elected administration, which is the friendliest Washington could hope for in a country with strong anti-American sentiment. Some experts argue that U.S. attacks only increase support for the Taliban. But the group already appears to have a stranglehold on large parts of the tribal territories. U.S. commanders say that victory in Afghanistan is impossible unless Taliban bases in Pakistan are reduced. And no risk to Pakistan's political system or its U.S. relations is greater than that of a second 9/11 staged from the tribal territories. U.S. missile and commando attacks must be backed by the best intelligence and must minimize civilian casualties. But they must continue. (The Washington Post)

Bush's Overseas Policies Begin Resembling Obama's

By Dan Eggen
Barack Obama contends that a John McCain presidency would amount to little more than President Bush's third term. But as it turns out, an Obama presidency might look a bit like Bush's second.(The Washington Post)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pakistan Did Not Agree to New Rules, Officials Say

By Karen DeYoung
New rules of engagement authorizing U.S. ground attacks inside Pakistan, signed by President Bush in July, were not agreed to by that country's civilian government or its military, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.(The Washington Post)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Karzai backs U.S. on Pakistan

By Augustine Anthony
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai backed a proposed U.S. strategy on Thursday to hit al Qaeda and Taliban militants in neighboring Pakistan, but NATO said it would not join any cross-border U.S. raids.(The Washington Post)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bush Said to Give Orders Allowing Raids in Pakistan

By ERIC SCHMITT and MARK MAZZETTI The order allowing Special Operations forces to act without the prior approval of the Pakistani government underscores U.S. concerns over Pakistan’s ability and will to combat militants. (The New York Times)

U.S.'s Top Military Officer Calls for Better Strategy in Afghanistan

By Ann Scott Tyson
The nation's top military officer offered today a blunt assessment of the war in Afghanistan, saying that although victory is possible, the current strategy is not necessarily leading in that direction.(The Washington Post)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Zardari, Karzai Pledge New Era of Cooperation

By Candace RondeauxISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 9 -- Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in as Pakistan's president Tuesday, and within hours he appeared with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, pledging to work with him to resolve long-standing tensions between their two countries and fight the rising Taliban insurgency on both...(The Washington Post)

In Hunt for Bin Laden, a New Approach

By Craig Whitlock
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Frustrated by repeated dead ends in the search for Osama bin Laden, U.S. and Pakistani officials said they are questioning long-held assumptions about their strategy and are shifting tactics to intensify the use of the unmanned but lethal Predator drone spy plane in the moun...(The Washington Post)

Monday, September 8, 2008

U.S. Strikes Taliban Stronghold in Pakistan

By Shaiq Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Sept. 8 -- At least 20 people were killed and 25 others injured Monday after several missiles fired by unmanned U.S. Predator drones hit a religious school and the house of a powerful Taliban commander in northwest Pakistan, near the border of Afghanistan, according to witnesses and a ...(The Washington Post)

Guantanamo inmate returned to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani security officials were questioning a man freed from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay and returned to his homeland more than six years after his detention, a senior official said Monday.(The Washington Post)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pakistan's Zardari urged to get new image and focus

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, must dispel the perception he is an artful politician and urgently address a deteriorating economy and worsening militant violence, newspapers said on Sunday.(The Washington Post)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bhutto's Widower Elected Pakistani President

By Candace Rondeaux
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 6 -- Pakistan's lawmakers on Saturday elected Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to take over the country's presidency amid political and economic turmoil and fears of a strengthening Taliban insurgency.(The Washington Post)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pakistan's Zardari marked by corruption, tragedy

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The likely next president of unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan following Saturday's election is a horse-loving aristocrat who has spent more years in prison than in politics _ a novice leader lifted to prominence by his marriage to Benazir Bhutto and propelled into power by her...(The Washington Post)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bhutto Widower With Clouded Past Is Set to Lead

By JANE PERLEZ Asif Ali Zardari will start his tenure as Pakistan’s president burdened by unproven corruption allegations. (The New York Times)

Pakistani Tortured, Her Attorney Says

By Carol D. Leonnig
NEW YORK, Sept. 4 -- The attorney for an American-trained behavioral scientist charged with trying to kill U.S. personnel in July said in court Thursday that she believes that her client was imprisoned and tortured for several years before the incident and now could be mentally incompetent.(The Washington Post)

Pakistan's Zardari, Once on the Sidelines, Eyes Presidency

By Candace Rondeaux
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 4 -- Two decades ago, Asif Ali Zardari was virtually unknown in the high-flying political circles that his new wife, Benazir Bhutto, traveled in.(The Washington Post)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pakistan's Prime Minister Unhurt After Shooting

By SALMAN MASOOD Shots were fired at Yousaf Raza Gilani’s motorcade, but the prime minister was not in the procession. (The New York Times)

NATO Accused of Civilian Deaths Inside Pakistan

By PIR ZUBAIR SHAH and JANE PERLEZ Coalition forces opened fire in a village near the Afghan border, killing seven people, the Pakistani military said.(The New York Times)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pakistani elders vow to protect vital Khyber Pass

By Ibrahim Shinwari
LANDIKOTAL, Pakistan (Reuters) - Ethnic Pashtun tribal elders in Pakistan have promised to ensure security for supplies trucked through the Khyber Pass bound for foreign forces in Afghanistan, a government official said on Tuesday.(The Washington Post)