It’s still not firmly established whether any Pakistan-based militant groups were involved in the failed car bombing in New York this month and there have been renewed suggestions that the suspect Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, may have been a lone wolf.
But this hasn’t stopped the soul-searching that Pakistanis have engaged in since the failed attack on May 1. Indeed, it’s not just the United States or other countries in the west urging Pakistan to act against militants; the Pakistanis are as forthright, if not more demanding that the whole ‘terrorist infrastructure” be taken down.
U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus last month warned residents of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar of a violent summer ahead as his troops prepared to take full control of the southern province (with the same name) from the Taliban. He spoke of the insurgents taking “horrific action” to stop the military advance into their spiritual centre.
Some of it may already be unfolding although the offensive is still thought to be weeks away. In one week alone toward the end of April there were 400 attacks , 60 percent of them roadside bombs. Which makes it 57 attacks in a day, telling you more than anything else the deteriorating military situation in the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Pakistan of ‘severe consequences” if a future attack on the U.S. homeland is traced back to Pakistani militant groups.
It’s the kind of language that harks back to the Bush administration when they threatened to “bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age” if it didn’t cooperate in the war against al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks. Pakistan fell in line, turning on militant groups, some of whom with close ties to the security establishment.
Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-born American charged with trying to bomb New York, may have failed in his objective, but one unintended consequence of his act may well be that a plan to reach out to insurgents in Afghanistan has been blown out of the water.
To be sure the Afghan Taliban which is entirely focused on fighting foreign forces in their homeland has nothing to do with the failed Times Square bombing. It is the Pakistani Taliban that claimed responsibility initially and the suspected bomber’s links to the group and another Pakistan-based group fighting Indian forces in Kashmir are being investigated.
Pakistan has come under renewed spotlight following the arrest of a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent for a failed bombing in New York’s Times Square and claims of responsibility by the Pakistani Taliban.
It is too early to confirm the plot was tied to any of a multitude of militant groups operating in Pakistan. Indeed, security experts have been sceptical about the claim by the Pakistan Taliban saying they doubt it has the reach to strike in Manhattan.
At some point this month or early June, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will outnumber those in Iraq, writes Michael E. O ‘Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. It’s an artificial milestone but it is worth noting because it tells you a good deal about the two wars and where the United States stands in each.
The cross-over is also a measure of how big and rapid has the shift been in America’s military power toward Afghanistan since President Barack Obama took office last year promising to bring the troops home.
Now that India and Pakistan have agreed to hold further talks following a meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries, are they going to step back from a bruising confrontation in Afghanistan?
It’s a war fought in the shadows with spies and proxies, and lots of money. Once in a while it gets really nasty as in deadly attacks on Indian interests for which New Delhi has pointed the finger at Pakistan.
The CIA is using smaller, advanced missiles – some of them no longer than a violin-case – to target militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt, according to the Washington Post.
The idea is to limit civilian casualties, the newspaper said quoting defence officials, after months of deadly missile strikes by unmanned Predator aircraft that has so burned Pakistan both in terms of the actual collateral damage and its sense of loss of sovereignty.
A new museum has opened in the western Afghan city of Herat honouring the exploits of the mujahideen who pushed back the mighty Soviet army following the invasion in 1979. Many consider it to be Afghanistan’s finest hour when a coalition of guerrillas variously commanded by regional warlords and, of course, heavily subsidised by the United States, fought the Soviet and Afghan government forces.
Reuters correspondent Golnar Motevalli takes a walk through the museum showing gory scenes of the corpses of Red Army soldiers slumped over tanks or burqa-clad women cheering the downing of a helicopter from the famously deadly Stinger missiles shoulder-fired by the mujahideen.