20 August 2008

Ongoing Operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Following up on my "Don't Be Ellis" plea to Pakistan, The Australian reports that Pakistan's military is conducting a massive operation into the border areas with Afghanistan (h/t Mudville Gazette):

In a speech to the National Assembly on Saturday, Mr Gilani declared the Government was determined to re-establish control in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. "We will establish the writ of the Government at all costs (as) a parallel government cannot be tolerated," he said.

The offensive, launched without fanfare to avoid conveying the notion it was done at the insistence of Washington, is targeting primarily Bajaur, slated as the most likely hiding place of Osama bin Laden. Fierce fighting is also under way in areas of the NWFP where many of Pakistan's nuclear weapons are believed to be based.

Dr Malik, who accompanied Mr Gilani to Washington, estimated yesterday that a force of more than 3000 well-armed and highly trained al-Qa'ida militants were operating in Bajaur.

Also, Karzai says good riddance to Musharraf, seeing Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency as bolstering Islamic militants to conduct cross-border operations. The Afghanistan President says:

The war against terrorism will not be won unless and until we go to the sanctuaries, to the training grounds, to the financiers, to the motivators of hatred that come across the border to kill us all." Those tribal territories of Pakistan, he said, "will not be peaceful as long as [the ISI's policy] continues. When that changes, yes, the tribal territories will become peaceful.

In Afghanistan, Sarkozy is on his way to Afghanistan after 10 French troops were killed during a prolonged gun battle with the Taliban. Can we officially drop "Freedom Fries" from the lexicon of the oughts. France also is sending more troops to Afghanistan, despite a negative perception in the French media of the mission.

French ISAF Soldier Patrols Outside Kabul