Hafiz Saeed To Chidambaram: ‘Meet Me First Before Heading To Islamabad’


‘India Has Always Betrayed Pakistan’ – JuD Chief

LAHORE: Banned Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed says that India has always betrayed Pakistan in the name of talks.

Addressing a Kashmir Solidarity Rally here on Friday, he has asked Indian Home Minister Chidambaram to meet him first in Lahore before heading to Islamabad. Earlier, he led a rally from Chobrgi to Punjab Assembly to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day. The participants of the rally were holding placards inscribed with Kashmir slogans.

“There is only one solution to all the problems – liberate Indian-held Kashmir. Otherwise the option of JIHAD is open for us,” Saeed said.

He also warned India that the liberation of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad was also on the JuD’s agenda.

Saeed, also the founder of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, warned the Pakistan government not to fool the people in the name of the composite dialogue with India.

“Our rulers get happy whenever India expresses its wish for talks with Pakistan. I want to tell them that India will never talk about liberating Srinagar and Jammu and Pakistan must understand this,” he said.

“When the United States is failing to stay in Afghanistan, then how could India remain in Kashmir,” he said. The JuD chief stated India has always deceived Pakistan in the name of dialogue.

Thousands rally for Kashmir in Pakistan

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan — Thousands of people rallied across Pakistan on Friday to denounce Indian rule in Kashmir, the disputed mainly Muslim state divided between the nuclear-armed rivals.

A Pakistani public holiday, Kashmir Solidarity Day, supports the region’s right to self-determination in line with UN resolutions that call for a plebiscite in Kashmir on whether it should be ruled by India or Pakistan.

This year’s event came a day after it emerged India had proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, a breakthrough in relations that were frozen after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, blamed on Pakistani militants.

Banners and hoardings calling for Kashmir’s freedom from Indian rule were put up by main roads and intersections across Pakistan.
In the capital Islamabad, several thousand activists from hardline party Jamaat-e-Islami demonstrated and formed a human chain, an AFP photographer saw.

In Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, thousands of people took to the streets chanting “Allah Akbar” (God is greatest), “We want jihad against India” and “Kashmir will become Pakistan”, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Pakistan observed a one-minute silence at 10:00 am (0500 GMT) as a mark of respect to the more than 47,000 people killed since an insurgency broke out in mainly Muslim Indian Kashmir in 1989.

In the Pakistani-administered zone, hundreds of people from the hardline Sunni Muslim party Jamaat-e-Islami rallied in the regional capital Muzaffarabad, while hundreds of other people formed a human chain in the town of Kohala.

“I warn India to stop human violations in Indian Kashmir and pull out its forces from there. The UN and America should also stop India from its cruelties,” Raja Mohammad Naseem, a provincial minister, told participants.

Demonstrators rallied in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi and the other major cities of Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.

Kashmir was split in two in the aftermath of independence on the subcontinent when British rule ended in 1947. Both India and Pakistan claim the entire territory, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control.

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring the Islamist insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the claim but has often spoken in support of the fighters.

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India Begs US Not To Leave Afghanistan


Bharat Verma

Islamabad aims to create a caliphate with the help of the Islamic regimes running from Central Asia to West Asia and Southeast Asia. India stands in the way. Beijing desires to unravel India into multiple parts based on the pre-British model as it cannot digest the challenge to its supremacy offered in Asia by a liberal union of multi-religious and multi-ethnic States.

While China and Pakistan have joined hands against India and bide their time for the American forces to leave, New Delhi has appealed to Washington not to exit from Afghanistan

With the American declaration of an exit from Afghanistan, Beijing and Islamabad are upbeat. This leaves India in the lurch as it is ill prepared to face the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists and the Chinese Communists argues Bharat Verma.

The creeping invasion by authoritarian regimes will engulf Asia by 2020 as democracies continue to retreat. India is unprepared and unwilling to safeguard the Asian democratic space.

The growing clout of totalitarian regimes coupled with non-State actors is set to shrink the democratic space in Asia. If the onslaught is not reversed by the end of the next decade, Islamic fundamentalist regimes, Communist dictatorships, military juntas and non-State actors will redraw the international boundaries and largely govern Asia.

The squeeze on the democratic space in India will increase once the American forces begin to exit Afghanistan in July 2011. Islamic fundamentalists with the assistance of the sympathetic Pakistan army will take over Afghanistan and Pakistan. This Taliban stronghold will operate on a ‘hub and spoke’ principle to expand influence and territory. To begin with, India will lose $1.5 billion (about Rs 6,900 crore) worth of investment in Afghanistan, as it is unwilling to defend it.

Islamic fundamentalism will sweep into Central Asia once the American wall holding the spread disappears from Afghanistan. Gradually, the resource rich area will come under the spell of the dark forces. Russia will feel threatened. Americans and the International Security Assistance Force are in many ways fighting Russia’s war.

Unlike New Delhi, Moscow is always willing to fight its way out!

Islamabad aims to create a caliphate with the help of the Islamic regimes running from Central Asia to West Asia and Southeast Asia. India stands in the way. Beijing desires to unravel India into multiple parts based on the pre-British model as it cannot digest the challenge to its supremacy offered in Asia by a liberal union of multi-religious and multi-ethnic States.

The simple truth is that Indian democratic values contradict and thereby pose a threat to the authoritarian philosophy of both, the Communists in Beijing, and the Islamic fundamentalists in Islamabad. Similarly, many regimes in Islamic West Asia feel uncomfortable with India’s ability to generate unprecedented soft power. Regression to medieval times helps keep these autocratic regimes in the saddle.

The all-pervading Indian soft power, therefore, poses a serious challenge. Hence, Pakistan is supported by the petro-dollars dished out on a Wahabbi checkbook to neutralise the threat posed by liberal India.

It is obvious that if the Indian model wins, autocratic regimes like China and Pakistan lose.

Primarily, there have been no terrorist attacks on India after Mumbai 26/11 on two counts. First, the raging civil war within has kept Pakistan preoccupied. Second, the intervention of the American forces has forced diversion of the Pakistan army and its non-State actors’s resources away from India. The stated exit of the Western forces beginning July 2010 from the Af-Pak region will render India extremely vulnerable.

The truth is that American forces in many ways are fighting India’s war too. However, New Delhi’s expectation that they will continue to fight such a war without India chipping is being naive.

While China and Pakistan have joined hands against India and bide their time for the American forces to leave, New Delhi has appealed to Washington not to exit from Afghanistan, but is unprepared and unwilling to assist. The Catch-22 is that neither the West led by America can win without Indian help nor can India prevail without a concrete alliance with the West.

New Delhi’s strategic incoherence continues to encourage Beijing and Islamabad’s designs of destabilising the Union. Militarily, India remains underprepared due to the huge equipment shortages on land, sea and air, created by the ministry of defence over the last two decades.

Shirking its primary responsibility of equipping the military leaves it ill equipped to cope with the increasing intensity of the threat once the Western forces retreat.

The stalemate in Afghanistan predominantly occurs on two counts. First, superior technology in a guerrilla war where motivational level of the adversary is very high, unless combined with adequate boots on the ground cannot deliver victory.

The West does not have a large reservoir of manpower to mitigate the situation. Thus, the under-manned war for past nine years has produced difficult-to-reverse battle fatigue despite the most modern technology on display.

The result is the resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda in the region. To win, a fair share of the soldiery needs to be drawn from Asian stock with equally high motivation and equipped with Western technology to surmount the challenge posed by Islamic fundamentalists.

Second, to defend Afghanistan, the war machinery should focus on Pakistan. However, the American strategy in Afghanistan is similar to the Indian fortress mentality.

Despite multiple attacks and infiltrations by the terrorists, New Delhi continues to fortify itself internally in futile attempts to repulse the attacks. Washington’s approach is similar in Kabul for the past nine years.

The Americans and the allied forces keep defending against the irregular guerrilla forces launched in to Afghanistan from Pakistan, clandestinely trained by the Pakistan army and its Inter Services Intelligence. The ghost forces from Pakistan, when attacked, disappear almost unscathed. They reappear in Kabul at will.

Washington and New Delhi cannot win since both refuse to face the fact that Pakistan is the problem.

To lend stability to Afghanistan, the threat from Pakistan covertly backed by China must be neutralised. Similarly to secure India, the joint threat from Pakistan and China needs to be resolved. In both, Pakistan is the common factor.

Beijing’s Communists back the Islamic fundamentalists in Islamabad to expel the American influence and subdue the Indians, even as Pakistan draws oxygen for sustenance from the economic bailouts from the West.

Logic dictates that to defend Kabul, with the intention of expanding influence of democracies in Asia, the focus must shift to Islamabad. However, an exit by the American forces set for July 2011 from Afghanistan will herald the process of colouring Asia in a dark hue.

With the declaration of the exit time frame, Beijing and Islamabad are once again upbeat.

This leaves India in lurch, as it is ill prepared to face the threat jointly posed by Islamic fundamentalists that includes the Pakistan army and the ISI, and the Chinese Communists. Both support the Maoists in Nepal and the non-State actors including the Maoists in India.

New Delhi therefore faces a simultaneous three-dimensional threat, — the external war on two fronts, worsening internal front aided by external actors, and lack of governance.

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Pakistan Blocks Agenda At UN Disarmament Conference


GENEVA: Arms negotiators failed to start talks on Tuesday on cutting nuclear weapons when Pakistan blocked the adoption of the 2010 agenda for the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.The conference, the world’s sole multinational negotiating forum for disarmament, spent much of 2009 stuck on procedural wrangles raised by Pakistan after breaking a 12-year deadlock to agree a programme of work.

The impasse on Tuesday suggested 2010 would be another year of halting progress.Pakistan, which tested a nuclear weapon in 1998, is wary of the proposed focus in the programme on limiting the production of fissile material, which would put it at a disadvantage against longer-standing nuclear powers such as India.

It therefore has an interest in delaying the start of substantive talks, diplomats say, “Even in the darkest days the agenda was adopted, because everything can be discussed under the agenda,” said one veteran official, unable to recall a similar delay in the past. Adoption of the agenda at the start of the annual session is normally a formality, but Pakistan Ambassador Zamir Akram took the floor to call for the agenda to be broadened to cover two other issues.

Akram said the 65-member forum should consider conventional arms control at the regional and sub-regional level, in line with a United Nations General Assembly resolution sponsored by Pakistan and passed last year.The conference should also negotiate a global regime on all aspects of missiles, he said.
“It is not our intention to create an obstacle but it’s also not our intention to create a situation which is oblivious to what is happening around us,” Akram said.
The move forced the conference president, Bangladesh ambassador Abdul Hannan, to adjourn the meeting for consultations to find a consensus. He said he hoped to resume on Jan. 21 with a renewed discussion of the agenda.

Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the former Russian diplomat who heads the UN in Geneva and is secretary of the conference, said failure to adopt the agenda would be a move backwards, arguing that it was flexible enough to include all topics of concern.But Akram said Pakistan did not want to work with a programme that was “frozen in time”.
Reaching a consensus is likely to prove difficult, as India rejected a discussion of regional conventional arms control, arguing that the conference should focus on global issues.Diplomats said Pakistan’s attempt to include regional arms control appeared directed at its bigger and better-armed neighbour.
The UN General Assembly also called on the conference last December to agree a 2010 work programme including immediate negotiations to ban the production of fissile material, in a resolution sponsored by Canada.

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I AM A WORLD CHAMP FROM PAKISTAN, SAYS AMIR KHAN


KARACHI: British boxing prodigy of Pakistani descent Amir Khan says as he considers himself a world champion from Pakistan and that his visit should also serve as an assurance that the country is safe for holding sporting activities.

The 23-year-old believes the world community should stop portraying Pakistan negatively because of some incidents of violence. He feels that although there has been some violence in the country, things should not be blown out of proportion.

‘Pakistan is a beautiful country. It is a great sporting nation. The world must support it by coming here for sporting activities. If Pakistan is isolated then the talent here will not be groomed,’ Khan told a press conference on Thursday.

Khan, also known as ‘King Khan’ for his sensational feat at the 2004 Athens Olympics where he grabbed the silver at the age of 17 after losing to Cuban hero Mario Kindelan in the final, said he will also try to convince English cricketers to visit Pakistan.

Pakistan has seen a slump in international sporting activities since the attacks on the visiting Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore. Cricket being a high-profile sport was hit badly when International Cricket Council shifted the Champions Trophy to South Africa last years after several countries including England refused to play in Pakistan because of security concerns, while hockey is also suffering owing to violence in the country.

Khan, who turned professional after the Athens Games and became a sensation in the UK and his country of origin Pakistan after winning the WBA light-welterweight title last year, defeating Ukrainian Andreas Kotelnik, is on a visit to Pakistan on an invitation of Pakistan Boxing Federation.

The world champion will watch the Benazir Bhutto international boxing tournament finals on Friday, the first international sports tournament after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers.

Raja Iqbal Amir Khan, commonly known as Amir Khan, also a cousin of England cricketer Sajid Mahmood, says he is proud of his Pakistani roots and even considers himself a Pakistani world champion.

‘When I was in London to support the Pakistani cricket team at Twenty20 World Cup final, there were two champions from Pakistan – the Pakistan cricket team and the second one was me,’ said Khan who says he never faced any discrimination or racism in England because of his Pakistani descent.

‘I have never faced any problem, discrimination or racism. People in UK love me and see me as a fellow Briton just like the way Pakistanis see me as their countryman,’ said Khan who is also known as the ‘Golden Boy of UK’ since he became the youngest British boxing Olympic medallist.

Khan promised he will at least fight once in Pakistan in his career but it will not be before 2011 or 2012 because of his professional commitments.

‘I want to promote boxing in Pakistan and I will definitely have at least one fight here in my career but that cannot be expected before 2011 or 2012. But one fight in Pakistan is something I will surely like to happen,’ said Khan in an exclusive interview with Dawn.com.

The Briton, whose boxing idol is legendry former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, said although professional boxing was exciting, he missed the amateur version of the game as he cannot participate in Olympics being a professional.

‘I must say amateur boxers should come into professional boxing only after some experience, not before that,’ said Khan.

Khan’s Dec 5 fight last year against Dmitriy Salita of the United States was seen in the Western media with much interest as he was a British Muslim while the American was Jewish. The Briton, however, says he never saw the fight as a clash between civilisations or religions.

‘It was all made up in the media. He (Salita) belongs to another religion but I took it professionally rather than making it a religious issue,’ said the world champion who successfully defended his title by thrashing mandatory challenger Salita in just 76 seconds in Newcastle, England, to break the unbeaten record of the American.

Having an impressive record of 22 victories and a loss against Colombian Breidis Prescott, Khan he said would love to have Pakistani boxers train with him at his Bolton academy, adding that he expected enormous improvement in Pakistani boxing within a year.

‘With a younger president of Pakistan Boxing Federation and promotion of the game, I can see huge changes and vast improvement in Pakistani boxing. Boxing is a sport for the brave. You need a brave heart for boxing. Boxing is not poor man’s game in the UK. It is a rich sport. So my advice for Pakistani boxers is to work harder and aim high, and I am sure they will achieve success’ said Khan.

Khan, however, did not agree that Britain can ever become the next Cuba in amateur boxing, saying it was not likely to happen as most of the British boxers turned professional.

‘No, I don’t think Britain can be what Cubans are in the amateur boxing because the British boxers usually turn professional, while Cubans don’t as they have restriction on joining professional ranks,’ said Khan attired in a white coat, jeans and boxing-style white leather shoes.

Khan’s father Shajaad Khan said his son’s achievements came because of his hard work and his parents’ support.

‘We (Khan’s parents) are behind him. If he wants to box, we will never stop him. Whenever he says it’s over, we will never force him to box. But since he is into boxing, he has our support,’ says Shajaad Khan.

‘Amir has always been a down-to-earth kid. He replies each and everyone’s e-mails. Once he sent an e-mail to British champion Prince Naseem Hamed when he was just 11. Naseem never replied. When Amir had a chance to meet Naseem, he asked why he never replied to his e-mail. Now he (Amir) still remembers this and never forgets to reply to e-mails from his fans,’ Khan’s uncle Tahir Mahmood told Dawn.com.

Khan will leave Karachi on Saturday for his ancestral town Rawalpindi where he will spend some time before leaving for UK.

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The US military is exhausted


Sarah Lazare

The call for over 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan is a travesty for the people of that country who have already suffered eight brutal years of occupation.

It is also a harsh blow to the US soldiers facing imminent deployment.

As Barack Obama, the US president, gears up for a further escalation that will bring the total number of troops in Afghanistan to over 100,000, he faces a military force that has been exhausted and overextended by fighting two wars.

Many from within the ranks are openly declaring that they have had enough, allying with anti-war veterans and activists in calling for an end to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some active duty soldiers publicly refusing to deploy.

This growing movement of military refusers is a voice of sanity in a country slipping deeper into unending war.

The architects of this war would be well-advised to listen to the concerns of the soldiers and veterans tasked with carrying out their war policies on the ground.

Many of those being deployed have already faced multiple deployments to combat zones: the 101st Airborne Division, which will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010, faces its fifth combat tour since 2002.

“They are just going to start moving the soldiers who already served in Iraq to Afghanistan, just like they shifted me from one war to the next,” said Eddie Falcon, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Soldiers are going to start coming back with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), missing limbs, problems with alcohol, and depression.”

Many of these troops are still suffering the mental and physical fallout from previous deployments.

Rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, with a third of returning troops reporting mental problems and 18.5 per cent of all returning service members battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007, and army suicides are at the highest rate since records were kept in 1980.

Resistance in the ranks

US army soldiers are refusing to serve at the highest rate since 1980, with an 80 per cent increase in desertions since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press.

These troops refuse deployment for a variety of reasons: some because they ethically oppose the wars, some because they have had a negative experience with the military, and some because they cannot psychologically survive another deployment, having fallen victim to what has been termed “Broken Joe” syndrome.

Over 150 GIs have publicly refused service and spoken out against the wars, all risking prison and some serving long sentences, and an estimated 250 US war resisters are currently taking refuge in Canada.

This resistance includes two Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers, Victor Agosto and Travis Bishop, who publicly resisted deployment to Afghanistan this year, facing prison sentences as a result, with Bishop still currently detained.

“There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan,” wrote Agosto, upon refusing his service last May. “The occupation is immoral and unjust.”

Within the US military, GI resisters and anti-war veterans have organised through broad networks of veteran and civilian alliances, as well as through IVAW, comprised of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

This organisation, which is over 1,700 strong, with members across the world, including active-duty members on military bases, is opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and openly supports GI resistance.

“Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on Obama to end the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq) by withdrawing troops immediately and unconditionally,” wrote Jose Vasquez, the executive director of IVAW, in a December 2 open letter.

“It’s not time for our brothers and sisters in arms to go to Afghanistan. It’s time for them to come home.”

No clear progress

GI coffee houses have sprung up at several military bases around the country. In the tradition of the GI coffee houses of the Vietnam war era, these cafes provide a space where active duty troops can speak freely and access resources about military refusal, PTSD, and veteran and GI movements against the war.

“Here at Fort Lewis, we’ve lost 20 soldiers from the most recent round of deployments,” said Seth Menzel, an Iraq combat veteran and founding organiser of Coffee Strong, a GI coffee house at the sprawling Washington army base.

“We’ve seen resistance to deployment, mainly based on the fact that soldiers have been deployed so many times they don’t have the patience to do it again.”

As the occupation of Afghanistan passes its eighth year, with no clear progress, goals that remain elusive, and a high civilian death count, this war is coming to resemble the Iraq war that has been roundly condemned by world and US public opinion.

The never-ending nature of this conflict belies the real project of establishing US dominance in the Middle East and control of the region’s resources, at the expense of the Afghan civilians and US soldiers being placed in harm’s way.

The voices of refusal coming from within the US military send a powerful message that soldiers will not be fodder for an unjust and unnecessary war. By withdrawing their labour from a war that depends on their consent, these soldiers have the power to help bring this war to an end, as did their predecessors in the GI resistance movement against the Vietnam war.

And the longer the war in Afghanistan drags on – the more lives that are lost and destroyed – the more resistance we will see coming from within the ranks.

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US faces harsh reality with Islamabad


Anne Gearan

Analysis: Hard reality as U.S. pushes Pakistan. Washington’s diplomatic dance with Islamabad has limits in terror fight.

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan will not go as far as Washington wants, and there’s nothing the U.S. can do about it: That’s the sobering reality as the U.S. tries to persuade a hesitant Pakistan to finish off the fight against terrorists.

Expand the current assault against the Taliban? Pakistan has made clear that will happen only on its own terms. U.S. officials acknowledge that so far they haven’t won the argument that militants who target America are enemies of Pakistan, too.

The U.S. has offered Pakistan $7.5 billion in military aid and broader cooperation with the armed forces. The assistance is intended to help Pakistan speed up its fight not only against internal militants, but also against al-Qaida and Taliban leaders hiding near the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistanis are deeply suspicious of America’s power and motives, making it difficult for their leaders to accede to Washington’s pressure in public, lest they look like U.S. puppets.

U.S. officials say that while Pakistani officials cooperate more in private, there are definite limits. The U.S. wanted Pakistan to move forces deeper into the tribal belt before winter. It didn’t happen, and might not at all.

A senior U.S. diplomat hinted at a separate agreement that would allow the U.S. itself to take on some of the hidden war against Pakistan’s militants.

Threat to U.S. forces:

Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive talks with Pakistan, the diplomat said last week that more U.S. action is expected against the Haqqani network, led by longtime resistance fighter and former U.S. ally Jalaluddin Haqqani. His network, based in the Waziristan tribal area in northwest Pakistan, reportedly has strong ties with al-Qaida and targets U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan from across the border.

The diplomat said the stepped-up U.S. action would come with Pakistani support, but would not elaborate on the potential cooperation.

Pakistani officials claim they have targeted the Haqqani leadership, albeit unsuccessfully, and will go after the network when the time is right. Some U.S. officials believe that, others don’t.

Military officials say the Haqqani problem illustrates how the United States sometimes needs Pakistan more than the other way around.

The U.S. military now counts the Haqqani network as the single gravest threat to U.S. forces fighting over the border in Afghanistan, and badly wants Pakistan to push the militants from their border refuges. But the Pakistani answer seems to be that unless and until the Haqqanis threaten Pakistan, they won’t be a priority.

Time, patience:

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the latest U.S. official to make the case in a visit to Pakistan’s capital last week.

More than most U.S. officials, Mullen has cordial, long-standing relationships with Pakistan’s generals, the strongest power base inside the country. Despite those ties, Mullen’s quiet effort met with a polite noncommittal from his hosts.

Mullen advises patience and humility in dealing with Pakistan, a view not shared by some leading Republicans in Congress. Mullen said Pakistan doesn’t get enough credit for the push since spring against militants in the Swat valley and South Waziristan.

“Too many people eagerly and easily criticize Pakistan for what they have not done,” Mullen said Sunday, days after Pakistan’s military leaders took Mullen on a tour of a reclaimed Swat.

“When I go to Swat, and look at what they did there on the military I think it’s pretty extraordinary.”

Most of the groups aligned against the U.S. are in North Waziristan, a tribal area not pressed hard by Pakistan’s army. The only firepower directed at militants there comes from American missile-loaded drones.

Mullen told students at Pakistan’s National Defense University that the U.S. is concerned about what it sees as a growing coordination among terrorist networks in and around Pakistan.

“I do not, certainly, claim that they are great friends, but they are collaborating in ways that quite frankly, scare me quite a bit,” Mullen said last week.

He did not come out and say Pakistan needs to expand the fight against militants. But his point was clear.

Sensitive ground:

In an exchange of letters over recent weeks, Obama asked for more cooperation and Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, pledged some additional help, U.S. officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private correspondence.

Zardari, reflecting the views of Pakistan’s powerful military, said his government will move against militants that attack U.S. forces when it is able to do so, the officials said.

That leaves ample room for Pakistan’s civilian leaders to pursue their own agenda — and on their own schedule.

Without additional pressure from inside Pakistan, the only other option is for the U.S. to finish the fight against terrorists on its own. But Pakistan doesn’t allow outright U.S. military action on its soil.

Mullen seemed to recognize that when he told the military students that he knows the U.S. is perceived as acting in its own interests almost at any cost, so it can hardly ask others not to put their own needs first.

“Sometimes that gets lost on us,” he said.

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Visa delay to affect aid efforts, US cautions Pak


The State Department said that if this continued, Washington’s efforts to help stabilise Pakistan could be affected.

WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday that if Pakistan continued to deny visas to hundreds of US officials and contractors, Washington’s efforts to help stabilise the violence-ridden country could be affected.

At a briefing, the department’s Deputy Spokesman Robert A. Wood confirmed earlier reports that Pakistan had denied visa to hundreds of US officials and citizens.

“Well, it is true. Hundreds of visa applications and renewals for US officials and contractors are awaiting issuance by the Pakistani government. The cause of the delays is unclear. But we are working with our Pakistani counterparts to try to resolve these issues. And we’re working very hard,” he said.

“In terms of what kind of an impact it may have, I would suspect, if this continues, it will indeed have an impact on our ability to do the work that we want to do to help the Pakistani people, in terms of fighting terrorism; in terms of economic development, and a whole range of issues.”

In an unusually harsh expression of public indignation from an official platform, the official said while the US administration was trying to work these issues with the government of Pakistan, “but indeed there are cases that are — that we’re concerned about”.

Asked if it’s a deliberate campaign to harass US officials and US operations in Pakistan, Mr Wood said: “I don’t think I can call it a deliberate campaign” but “certainly, if any of our officials feel that they are being harassed, there are appropriate channels to go through in order to file complaints about that sort of thing”.

Yet, he said, he would not “make a general comment that there’s an official harassment campaign”.

Explaining how the US administration was trying to resolve this dispute with a country it regards as a key ally in the war against terror, Mr Wood said: “We have raised these issues with Pakistani officials at very senior levels. And we’ve expressed our concern about the delays and the impact that this could very well have on our programmes and activities.”

The Pakistani authorities, he said, were well aware of America’s concerns. “I can’t give you any reason why they’re being delayed. But these issues are important.”

He said that while only Pakistanis could explain why they were doing so, for the Americans it was a big concern and they had raised it at very senior levels.

“We’re committed to trying to work with Pakistan to make sure that we can get these visas and get on with the business of what we’re trying to do in Pakistan.”

“In terms of raising it at senior levels, how far does this go back? Did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raise it on her recent trip?” he was asked.

“Let me just say this: We’ve raised it at very senior levels. I don’t really want to get more specific than that,” said Mr Wood.

Asked if the delay was already having an impact on US-Pakistan relations, Mr Wood said: “It’s hard for me to characterise how — would I want to stand up here at the podium and say it’s having a real impact right now. I don’t — I can’t really say that. I just don’t know. But I think, should this continue, it indeed will have an impact.”