Saturday, November 22, 2008

US missiles striking terror into Pakistani militants

Terrorism: I like what I am reading here.

United States forces are believed to have carried out about 20 missile attacks since August in north-west Pakistan, a sharp rise that reflects Washington's frustration at Islamabad's efforts to tackle militants on its own soil.

Though the attacks have killed a number of high-profile militant leaders, civilian casualties and wounded national pride has led to outrage in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has been forced to repeatedly deny reports that a secret pact has been agreed with the US to allow the missile attacks from Afghanistan territory to go ahead.

Pakistani government officials and military officers last week denied the existence of a "secret list" of 20 individuals against whom missile strikes had been sanctioned by Islamabad without prior consultation. They repeatedly told the Observer that the strikes were causing problems by angering local people. "One strike and you have a whole village radicalised," said Shafir Ullah Nasir, the political agent in the Bajaur tribal agency where fighting has raged for months.

Pakistan's new civilian president, Asif Ali Zardari, has urged Washington to share intelligence and equip Pakistani forces so they can pursue militants on their own side of the border.

Intelligence officials in Islamabad have told the Observer that the strikes have demoralised militants, forcing many to sleep in different locations every night or even sleep under trees for cover rather than risk staying in a house. The heightened rate of attrition among the militants has sparked a hunt for a suspected spy within their ranks, diverting attention and resources from offensive actions, the officials said.

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