A ground assault by US Special Forces troops on a Pakistani village on Wednesday threatens to expand the escalating Afghanistan war into its neighbour. Pakistan is already confronting a virtual civil war in its tribal border regions as the country’s military, under pressure from Washington, seeks to crush Islamist militias supporting the anti-occupation insurgency inside Afghanistan.
The attack, which left up to 20 civilians dead, marks a definite escalation of US operations inside Pakistan. While US Predator drones and war planes have been used previously to bomb targets, Wednesday’s raid was the first clear case of an assault by American ground troops inside Pakistani territory. The White House and Pentagon have refused to comment on the incident but various unnamed US officials have acknowledged to the media that the raid took place and indicated that there could be more to come.
The attack was unprovoked. US troops landed by helicopter in the village of Jalal Khei in South Waziristan at around 3 a.m. and immediately targetted three houses. The engagement lasted for about 30 minutes and left between 15 and 20 people dead, including women and children.
A US official acknowledged to CNN that there may have been women and children in the immediate vicinity but when the mission began “everyone came out firing from the compound”. Even this flimsy justification for a naked act of aggression is probably a lie. “It was very terrible as all of the residents were killed while asleep,” a villager Din Mohammad told the Pakistan-based International News.
The newspaper provided details of the dead and injured: nine family members of Faujan Wazir, including four women, two children and three men; Faiz Mohammad Wazir, his wife and two other family members; and Nazar Jan and his mother. Two other members of Nazar Jan’s family were seriously wounded.
The US and international media have described the Angoor Adda area around the village as “a known stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda” but offered no evidence to support the claim. A villager, Jabbar Wazir, told the International News: “All of those killed were poor farmers and had nothing to do with the Taliban.”
In comments to the International Herald Tribune, a senior Pakistani official branded the raid a “cowboy action” that had failed to capture or kill any senior Al Qaeda or Taliban leader. “If they had gotten anyone big, they would be bragging about it,” he commented.
The attack has provoked outrage in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement branding the attack as “a gross violation of Pakistan territory” and summoned US ambassador Anne Patterson to provide an explanation. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) governor Owais Ahmed Ghani declared that “the people expect that the armed forces of Pakistan would rise to defend the sovereignty of the country”. He put the number killed at 20.
Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the raid was “completely counterproductive” and risked provoking an uprising even among those tribesmen who have previously supported the army’s operations in the border areas.
The International News reported: “Angry villagers later blocked the main road between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Angoor Adda by placing the bodies of their slain tribesmen on the road. They chanted slogans against the US and NATO military authorities for crossing the border without any provocation and killing innocent people.”
The US raid has compounded the political crisis inside Pakistan, where the selection of a new president is due to take place tomorrow. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been engaged in a delicate balancing act—continuing to support US demands for a crackdown by the Pakistani military along the border with Afghanistan, while trying to defuse widespread anger and fend off accusations that it is a US puppet.
Reaffirming his support for the Bush administration’s bogus “war on terror”, PPP presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari declared in a column in yesterday’s Washington Post: “We stand with the United States, Britain, Spain and others who have been attacked.” Zardari went on to promise that he would ensure that Pakistani territory would not be used to launch raids on US and NATO forces inside Afghanistan.
However, as PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar explained, the US attack was politically compromising. “We have been very clear that any action on this side of the border must be taken by Pakistani forces themselves,” he told the Associated Press. “It is very embarrassing for the government. The people will start blaming the government of Pakistan.”
An expanded war
The decision to launch Wednesday’s attack was undoubtedly taken at the top levels of the White House and Pentagon. As the New York Times reported in articles earlier this year, a high-level debate has been taking place in Washington over the use of US Special Forces inside Pakistan as well as the intensification of existing CIA operations, which include Predator missile strikes.
A meeting in early January involved Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and top national security and intelligence officials advisers. According to the New York Times on January 6, options discussed included “loosening restrictions on the CIA to strike selected targets in Pakistan” and operations involving US Special Operations forces, such as the Navy Seals.
The Times reported on January 27 that then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected proposals put by US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden for an expanded American combat presence in Pakistan, either through covert CIA missions or joint operations with Pakistani security forces. While apparently accepting the refusal, the US intensified pressure on Pakistan to bring its border areas under control.
As the anti-occupation insurgency has expanded in Afghanistan, claiming a growing number of US and NATO casualties, Pakistan has become a convenient scapegoat. Washington has repeatedly accused the Pakistani military of failing to suppress Islamist militia and alleged that Pakistani military intelligence is actively supporting anti-US guerrillas inside Afghanistan.
Admiral Mullen has held five meetings since February with his Pakistani counterpart, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to press for tougher action. The most recent took place last weekend aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, stationed in the Arabian Sea. In comments to CNN, a US official “declined to say” whether there were any new agreements for US troops to operate inside Pakistani airspace or on the ground to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Whether the Pakistani military quietly approved Wednesday’s attack or not, the Bush administration is making clear that it intends to extend the war into Pakistan. Citing top American officials, the New York Times reported on Wednesday that the raid “could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, a secret plan that Defence Secretary Robert Gates has been advocating for months within President George W. Bush’s war council”.
This utterly reckless policy, which risks the eruption of a US war against Pakistan, is bipartisan in character. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his support for broadening the “war on terror” through unilateral US attacks on insurgents based inside Pakistan. His candidacy has been strongly backed by sections of the US establishment that have been critical of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq for undermining US interests. Far from opposing aggressive US military action, Obama has become the political vehicle for shifting its focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan as the means of advancing US strategic interests in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
The US attack on the village of Jalal Khei is another demonstration that the shift in policy, with all its potentially catastrophic consequences, is already underway.
Source / World Socialist Web Site
And there’s this:
Turning Away From American State Terrorism
By Peter Chamberlin / 5 September 2008
“The American people realize this election represents a turning point. In two months they will decide the future direction of our nation. It’s a decision to follow one path or another.” Rudy Giuliani
The choice we face in November is very clear. It is a choice to continue to support the US terror war, or to turn away from this path of unlimited destruction. This lie-based war is all about terrorism – whether America actually fights terrorism or promotes its use. To find the answer to this conundrum all we have to do is turn our gaze to Pakistan.
In Pakistan we find the complete history of the American “war on terrorism,” from its Cold War origins nearly thirty years ago to its present incarnation in the illegal American aggression in Pakistan’s Frontier region (FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and in American attempts to reignite the Cold War with Russia. The latest cross-border attack against Pakistan in South Waziristan, which involved American helicopters and ground troops, costing 15 villagers their lives, represents the first steps in American attempts to escalate its war into a reasonable facsimile of another world war.
Once again, America claims that its aggression against Pakistan is a legitimate act of self-defense against the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP,Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), who, it is claimed, are responsible for America’s faltering war effort in Afghanistan. Wednesday’s aggression was another attempt to get TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud (branded “public enemy number one” by the US) or one of his top commanders. Mehsud is the key to understanding America’s true role in the terror war, that of state terrorism planner and facilitator, in order to later assume the role of defender against the terrorism it causes.
Baitullah Mehsud assumed control of the TTP from its founder, his infamous cousin Abdullah Mehsud. Abdullah was a prisoner at Guantanamo before being inexplicably released to return to Pakistan, where he founded the new Taliban splinter group. On his second day in S. Waziristan he instigated the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers from the building of the Gomal Zam Dam, beginning the TTP fight against America’s adversaries in the region.
Setting the pattern for all future American terror attacks, the American media reported that America’s secret allies, the TTP, were “al Qaida linked.” Whenever and wherever the Western media uses the expression “al Qaida linked,” to describe terrorist attacks, they are referring to American terrorism. This is also painfully true about those sinister forces that killed 3,000 American civilians on September 11, 2001. American/“al Qaida” terrorism always targets civilians, even American civilians. Next to the US military, al Qaida is the greatest killer of innocent Muslims in the world.
Now we have American covert forces busily killing Pakistani civilians by the hundreds, in order to justify the planned overwhelming American assault upon Pakistan, which is conveniently situated between the main target Iran and all that juicy fuel located in the “Stans,” the former Soviet satellites where America’s Georgian mercenaries are busily committing acts of genocide to restart the new Cold War.
The American destabilization of nuclear-armed Pakistan has been the key to the planned destruction of Iran and the seizure of the Caspian region oil and gas fields and the pipeline routes for marketing the stolen booty. Targeting American-backed militants, who are using the same terrorist training camps created by the CIA to launch a “jihad” against the Soviets, American interests are seeking to topple the Pakistani government and to seize their nuclear arsenal.
The corporate American government cannot survive the debt-based collapse of its own economy and the world economy without a massive military expansion of its power, gaining control of the world’s energy reserves. America cannot continue bullying the world to have its way without this key asset.
The Republican and Democratic co-conspirators understand the dilemma created by America’s greed and attempts to forge a global empire. This means that no matter who wins the November election will continue this policy of international piracy and terrorism. It is up to the American people to decide whether these policies of state terrorism continue. It is our decision to make, whether we allow America to destroy the world to save itself, or whether we suffer the economic consequences for our actions in the past. By our inaction, or by the wrong action, we allow the evil that our government continually sows. By participating in our farcical “free elections,” casting a vote for either man, we vote to destroy a large portion of the world and its people.
We can no longer give our assent to the crimes against humanity committed against the world by our government on a daily basis. Non-participation in the affairs of this government on any level, will deny it the cover of legitimacy and support it needs to continue on its terror rampage. We must become the “monkey wrench” in the works of government and in American life, in general. We begin by overwhelming the Congress with our righteous anger against governmental plans to unleash hell on earth.
All it will take to do this is a unified signal from the people that we will no longer silently abide its immoral actions. The Congressional parasites who feed at the public trough fear a non-complacent electorate, a united people committed to reclaiming our rightful positions as “watchdogs” of government.
All we have to do to sway a chicken hawk Congress is to convince them that we are now awake. We must focus our antiwar efforts to disrupt the aggression against Pakistan. It is time to join with the democratic antiwar resistance forces in Pakistan, to put an end to the American empire of terror.
Fight the evil that we have become!
Source / Information Clearing House