Pakistan-U.S. alliance scarred

June 19, 2008

A New York Times report about Pakistan threatening to postpone or cancel an American programme to train a paramilitary force because of last week’s U.S. air strikes has been widely picked up in the Pakistani media.

Eleven soldiers from the Frontier Corps died in those air strikes in the Mohmand agency in circumstances that remain unclear. But the U..S.-Pakistan alliance forged after the September 11 attacks has been deeply scarred as a result, says the report. It quotes former Pakistan Army chief General Jehangir Karamat as saying that the United States deliberately targeted Pakistani forces and that there had not been a statement from the United States that this was friendly fire and that the intention was not to attack Pakistani forces.

The Frontier Corps is the very paramilitary force that Washington had begun spending $400 million to train in counter-insurgency techniques.

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Such is the anger in Pakistan, inflamed further by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s
threat to send troops in to Pakistan to stop cross border attacks, that defence expert Shireen M Mazari questioned whether America was a “dubious ally or an outright enemy.”

Air strikes are blunt instruments and rarely win hearts and minds, says writer Eric Margolis. Attacks by U.S. aircraft, Predator hunter-killer drones, U.S. special forces and CIA teams have been rising steadily inside Pakistan’s FATA, and instead of intimidating the Taliban, they have ignited a firestorm of anti-western fury among the tribesmen, he writes.

But the United States says cross border attacks into Afghanistan have been increasing – there were 50 percent more in April than the year before- attributing it to lack of pressure on the militants on the other side of the border.
 

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