U.S. drone strike kills 10 in Pakistan

An armed Predator drone flying over a desert.

A U.S. drone aircraft killed at least ten people on Saturday in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region near the Afghan border, Pakistani security officials said.

In Saturday’s strike, a drone fired missiles at a house in the Shawal area of North Waziristan, killing the ten, said the officials who declined to be identified.

Shawal is a remote area of forested ridges and valleys that spreads out on both sides of the border.

The identity of those killed in the strike was yet not known and officials said they were trying to collect more information from the far-flung mountainous area.

Saturday’s attack was the second strike since parliament in March approved new guidelines on relations with the United States, which included a call for an end to drone attacks on Pakistani territory.

A Pakistani parliamentary committee recently demanded an end to drone strikes on Pakistani territory as part of its recommendations for how its relationship with the United States should change.

The United States has given no indication it intends to halt the campaign, and the administration of President Barack Obama has said the use of the remotely piloted aircraft is legal under international law.

Saturday’s U.S. drone strike is the 12th of its kind in Pakistan since this year. Up to date, at least 93 people have reportedly been killed in such strikes in 2012. The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years.

WB

SSM releases timetable for major projects

A prototype of T-129 Atak helicopters co-developed by Turkey and Italian AgustaWestland is seen during a test flight. First Atak is planned to be delivered by 2013.

Turkey’s Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry has disclosed a new five-year strategic plan, which finalizes completion dates for key projects including Turkish-made tanks, aircraft, satellites, destroyers, and helicopters, in a bid to lift the country’s defense industry into a higher league.

Altay, the Turkish-made tank project, will be complete by the end of 2015, the plan says. The first Turkish destroyer will be delivered in 2016. Atak, an attack helicopter, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

More than 280 projects have been carried out since 2011, according to the new 2012-2016 strategic plan. The total value of the contracts the undersecretariat signed last year was about $27.3 billion.

Top 10 Within Five Years

The plan envisages Turkey’s defense industry entering the top 10 worldwide within five years. The total turnover target for defense and aerospace industry exports for 2016 is $2 billion, out of an overall industry turnover of $8 billion, according to the plan.

Turkey will establish liaison offices in the Middle East, the Far East, the U.S., the Caucasus-Central Asia, and in Europe (EU-NATO). The undersecretariat will encourage collaboration between prime contractors, sub-industries, and small and medium enterprises, with universities and research institutions improving the technological base.

The Turkish government will support the establishment of testing and certification centers that meet international standards, in order to meet non-military and non-public sector demands. A land vehicle test center, a high-speed wind tunnel, an aerial vehicle flight test field, a missile systems test field, a satellite assembly center, and an integration and testing center will be among these facilities, according to the strategic plan.

Arms Projects Timetable

The strategic defense plan has laid out dates for the deadlines to manufacture the first domestically produced prototypes in the local defense industry.

  • A radar observation satellite will be ready by 2016.
  • The third-generation of the main battle tank, Altay, will be manufactured by the end of 2015.
  • The first destroyer will be delivered to the Turkish Navy by the end of 2016. Studies regarding development of a submarine will be completed by 2015.
  • Atak, a national attack helicopter, will be delivered by 2013. An all-purpose helicopter will be delivered by the end of 2016.
  • The mass production of a national infantry rifle starts in July.
  • Hürkuş, a training aircraft designed by TUSAŞ, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered to the Turkish Air Force by the end of 2015 and 2014 respectively. And a jet motor prototype will be ready by 2016.
  • Long-range and medium-range anti-tank rocket systems will be in the inventory of the Turkish army by the end of 2012 and 2013 respectively.
  • Semi Active Laser Guided Missile, CIRIT, will be mass produced and integrated to ATAKs by the end of 2013.
  • Low and medium altitude air defense systems will be designed by the end of 2016.

Turkey to increase ballistic missiles’ range

Missiles with a range of 2,500 kilometers are a realistic target according to Professor Yücel Altınbaşak, head of Turkey’s State Scientific Research Institute. However, analysts remain uncertain as to Turkey’s capacity or need to achieve this goal.

J-600T Yıldırım ballistic missile on an F-600T launching vehicle, based on a MAN 26.372 6x6 truck.

Turkey aims to build ballistic missiles with a range of 2,500 kilometers within the next two years, Turkish officials have said, but analysts remain uncertain as to whether the country needs, or can even achieve, such a capability.

Professor Yücel Altınbaşak, head of Turkey’s State Scientific Research Institute (TÜBİTAK), recently told reporters that the decision to build the ballistic missiles was made at a recent meeting of the High Board of Technology and in line with a request from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Altınbaşak said TÜBİTAK had already produced and delivered a missile with a range of 500 kilometers to the Turkish military and added that the missile had displayed a mere five-meter deviation from its target in field tests. In the next phase of the program this year, TÜBİTAK will first test the 1,500-kilometer missile before heading for the final goal of 2,500 kilometers.

Altınbaşak said building missiles with a range of 2,500-kilometer was a “realistic target for Turkey.” But analysts voiced doubts about Turkey’s ballistic ambitions.

“TÜBİTAK already has the technology to build the 185-kilometer stand-off-munitions (SOM) missiles. It may have reached the 500-kilometer range recently by diminishing the payload or by some other modifications. It is still dubious, however, how the tests for 500 kilometers went unnoticed globally,” a missile technology expert said.

A Middle East political expert said Turkey’s decision to produce cruise and ballistic missiles may mark a change in threat and security design perceptions.

“Why would the Turks need these missiles? Where will they use them? Against which threats? It is also intriguing that Turkey, which seeks a modern air force with deterrent firepower, is going along the path many rogue states with no modern air force capabilities have gone,” the specialist said.

Since 1997, Turkey has been a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) which was established in 1987 by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the United States.

The MTCR was created in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons, specifically delivery systems that could carry a minimum payload of 500 kilograms a minimum of 300 kilometers.

Experts agree that the MTCR has been successful in helping to slow or stop several ballistic missile programs; Argentina, Egypt and Iraq abandoned their joint Condor II ballistic missile program, while Brazil, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan also shelved or eliminated missile or space launch vehicle programs.

Some Eastern European countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, destroyed their own ballistic missiles to – in part – better their chances of joining MTCR.

But there is consensus that the MTCR regime has its limitations. India, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan (all non-members) continue to advance their missile programs. All four countries, with varying degrees of foreign assistance, have deployed medium-range ballistic missiles that can travel more than 1,000 kilometers and are exploring missiles with much greater ranges. Similarly, Iran has supplied missile production items to Syria.

The missile expert said Turkey’s announcement for ballistic missile production may ring alarm bells in some of the countries which produce “the ingredients” for these missiles.
“From now on Turkey may find it increasingly difficult to have access to some of the components it will need to achieve its missile ambitions,” the expert said. “Some countries may think it more appropriate to introduce limitations to the Turkish purchase of some technology.”

 By Umit Enginsoy, HDN

Israeli Paper: Turkey May Fund HAMAS

Turkey may reportedly replace Hamas’ chief financier, Iran, to alleviate the Gaza ruling party’s financial pain as it has faced difficulty in receiving aid from the Islamic republic.

Haniye with Turkish Premier Erdogan in the AKP group building.

Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Turkish sources on Saturday that stated Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh conveyed his party’s financial difficulties to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his first visit to Turkey and that Turkey is seriously considering funding Hamas.

The report added that Haniyeh explained to Erdoğan in some detail the financial difficulties Hamas has faced after expected aid from Iran didn’t arrive on time and was significantly decreased.

Foreign aid is essential to helping Palestinians survive, including in Gaza, which, though ruled by Hamas, receives almost half of the Palestinian Authority’s budget in social services and salaries. It said Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has left Syria for good and is considering moving the party’s headquarters to Qatar or Jordan.

Mashaal, 55, has been based in Damascus since 2001, fearing for his safety and restriction of movement in Gaza. He has been the chief of Hamas since 1996, responsible for setting policy and planning operations against Israel.

Earlier this month Haniyeh toured Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and Tunisia. It was the first time he has left Gaza since Israel siege in 2007. He is also expected to visit Iran, Qatar and other Muslim countries at the end of this month. Hamas officials say the goal of Haniyeh’s trip was to improve ties with Muslim countries swept up in the uprisings shaking the Arab world.

An aide to Haniyeh said earlier this month that he would meet leaders in Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey and discuss rebuilding the Gaza Strip, which suffered damage during a month-long Israeli offensive in 2008-09.

WB

Turkey is not platform for attacking Iran – Turkish FM

Turkey and Iran have shared a peaceful border for centuries.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu underlined that his country will not allow the NATO to use its territory to strike Iran.

Davutoglu made the remarks during a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

He said that Turkey has never cooperated with those who wanted to harm its neighboring countries like Russia, Iran or Syria.

Iran-Turkey border has always been a border of peace, and it will continue to be so, he added.

Noting that he discussed Iran and Syria issues with Lavrov, Davutoglu said that Turkey’s position with Russia was very similar in Iran issue, adding that talks on Iran’s nuclear program should resume rapidly.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia and Turkey had almost the same position on Iran and Russia wanted this issue to be solved through diplomatic means.

Moscow believes that Iran’s nuclear problem can be solved only diplomatically and politically, he added.

Russia wants the soonest resumption of the talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) and Iran.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

Turkey threatens intervention into Iraq

Relations between the Turkish and Iraqi governments have deteriorated sharply. In a speech to parliament on Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, the head of a Sunni Islam-based religious party, accused his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, the leader of a Shiite-coalition, of promoting sectarian violence against the Sunni minority in Iraq.

Erdogan warned: “Maliki should know that if you start a conflict in Iraq in the form of sectarian clashes it will be impossible for us to remain silent. Those who stand by with folded arms watching brothers massacre each other are accomplices to murder.”

Erdogan was responding to complaints by Maliki that Turkey has been interfering in Iraqi domestic politics through its support for the largely Sunni-based Iraqiya coalition, which is engaged in a fierce power struggle with the government in Baghdad.

The implications of Erdogan’s statement are unmistakable. They amount to a direct threat that Turkey will support an intervention into Iraq on the same pretext of “defending civilians” used to justify the NATO-led intervention to oust Gaddafi regime in Libya. In the case of Iraq, intervention would be justified with the allegation that Maliki is persecuting the country’s Sunnis.

The Turkish stance toward Maliki is inseparable from the broader US-backed drive to refashion geopolitical relations in the Middle East and, above all, to shatter the regional influence of Iran. US allies such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf state monarchies—all dominated by Sunni elites—have lined up with Washington against Shiite-ruled Iran. They are using inflammatory sectarian language to try to galvanise support for a policy that threatens to trigger a regional war.

The Syrian regime, which is a longstanding Iranian ally and based on an Allawite Shiite ruling stratum, has been targeted for “regime change.” The current Iraqi government, while it is the direct creation of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, is also viewed as unacceptable by the regional US allies. The Shiite factions forming the Maliki government have longstanding ties with the Iranian religious establishment. Maliki has refused to support an ongoing US military presence in Iraq or economic sanctions, let alone military aggression, against Syria and Iran.

Iraqiya, which was part of the ruling coalition, campaigned aggressively to weaken the political dominance of the Shiite parties in the lead-up to the withdrawal of US combat troops in December. Sunni leaders accused Maliki of reneging on an agreement to preside over a “national unity” government and pressured him to place the main security ministries under the direction of Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi.

Allawi, a secular Shiite, had been a long-time American collaborator before the US invasion and was installed by the US in 2004 as the “interim” prime minister of Iraq. He sanctioned the military repression of the Sunni population and atrocities such as the destruction of the largely Sunni city of Fallujah. Despite this history, he was adopted by the Sunni elites as their main representative after the effective collapse of the anti-occupation insurgency. His qualifications are his hostility to the Shiite religious parties, his anti-Iranian Arab nationalism and his close connections to Washington.

Attempts to elevate Allawi, with clear support from the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have suffered something of a shipwreck. Maliki and his Shiite-based Da’wa Party, which was repressed by the Sunni-dominated Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, responded with a pre-emptive strike against the challenge to their grip on power.

Hundreds of ex-Baath Party members, particularly former senior military officers, have been rounded up and detained. Allawi alleged this month that more than 1,000 members of his and other parties opposed to Maliki had been arrested in recent months. He claimed they had been subjected to torture to extract false confessions of committing “terrorism.” There has been a growing number of indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas and religious events by suspected Sunni extremists. Last week, 34 men accused of terrorism were executed in a single day.

In the most high-profile case of alleged Sunni “terrorism,” the bodyguards of Iraqiya Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi—one of the country’s highest ranking politicians—were detained and allegedly tortured. They were paraded on national television in late December to accuse the Sunni leader of personally directing a sectarian death squad.

Hashemi has only escaped arrest by taking refuge in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. He has been charged with crimes that carry a death sentence.

Maliki responded to a walkout of Iraqiya ministers from his cabinet by having their offices locked and stripping them of their political responsibilities. The Iraqi parliament has continued to sit despite a boycott by most Iraqiya members.

Last Friday, the Iraqiya deputy governor of the majority Sunni province of Diyala, who agitated last year for regional autonomy, was seized by secret police operating under Maliki’s command. He has been charged with “terrorist activities.”

The present crisis could rapidly lead to the eruption of civil war and potentially fracture Iraq along sectarian lines, drawing in other regional powers such as Turkey and Iran. The majority of the 300,000-strong Iraqi military are Shiites. While poorly trained and equipped, they have a degree of allegiance to Maliki’s government.

A confrontation is looming between the Maliki government and the autonomous Kurdish region in the north. Last week, a Shiite politician advocated an economic blockade of the Kurdish region unless Vice President Hashemi was handed over for trial. The Kurdish government has its own 200,000-strong armed forces.

Following the 2003 invasion, the US fostered sectarian divisions as a means of undermining the previous Baathist elite and blocking a unified resistance by ordinary working people against the occupation and collapse of living standards. Now the US is encouraging its regional allies to back the Sunni and Kurdish elites against the Maliki government, with reckless indifference for the rapidly escalating violence.

By James Cogan, WSWS

Turkey awaits key counterterrorism weapons

Turkey's T129 attack helicopter during flight tests.

The Turkish military is slated to acquire several weapons systems to use against terrorists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) this year, one senior procurement official said last week.
Italy’s AgustaWestland and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) have been collaborating on building the T-129 attack helicopter, a Turkish version of the company’s A129 Mangusta International.

AgustaWestland is scheduled to deliver the first nine of a planned 59 helicopters to the military toward the end of 2012.

Turkish authorities then will assemble the required weapons systems on the platforms, and the nine helicopter gunships are expected to enter service in 2013, the official said.

Separately, the United States is expected to deliver three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters early this year. The U.S. Congress approved the sale of these three choppers, worth $125 million, toward the end of 2012.

Additionally, TAI, Turkey’s state-owned aerospace powerhouse, is scheduled to deliver to the military three Anka Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles in 2012, to be used for reconnaissance purposes, the official said.

Turkey is already operating nine Israeli-made Heron MALE drones against the PKK. The United States has also deployed another four RQ-1 Predator MALE drones at Turkey’s southern İncirlik airbase to fly over PKK camps in northern Iraq and provide the Turkish military intelligence.

Additionally Turkey has requested to buy four RQ-1 Predator reconnaissance drones and two armed MQ-1 Reapers, but the U.S. has not responded to the request.

In addition to its MALE drone capabilities, the Turkish military operates scores of smaller drones.

Unmanned vehicles

TAI’s efforts to develop and produce the Anka have seen a delay of several years. “Attack helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles are among the most effective weapons against terrorists, and we will have an abundance of these weapons soon,” said one security official.

The PKK this year intensified terrorist attacks against Turkish military and civilian targets, causing a public outrage.

Separately, the U.S. Boeing is expected to deliver the first of a planned four spy planes to the Turkish Air Force in 2012. The program to manufacture the four Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft is worth more than $1.6 billion and is behind schedule a few years.

The Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey’s highest procurement agency, is also expected to select a foreign company in Turkey’s $4 billion long range air and missile defense system program. Among the candidates competing to build an air and missile defense system with Turkish partners are U.S. companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, with their Patriot Air and Missile Defense System; Russian Rosoboronexport’s S-300; Chinese CPMIEC’s (China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp.) HQ-9; and European Eurosam’s SAMP/T Aster 30.

The Defense Industry Executive Committee’s members include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Procurement Chief Murad Bayar.

Finally, the committee would select a national commercial shipyard which will manufacture the third through the eighth of the Milgem national corvettes. The first two corvettes were built at a military shipyard. The first corvette, the TCG Heybeliada, already has entered service in the Navy, and the second, the TCG Büyükada, has been put to sea for tests.

HDN

Hamas leader visits Turkey

Haniyeh and Erdogan

Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is in Turkey on his first official tour outside the blockaded territory.

His talks with Turkey’s premier come as his host’s relations with Israel deteriorate after last year’s raid on a Turkish aid ship.

Nine activists died in the incident when Israeli comandos boarded the Gaza-bound Turkish vessel to prevent it breaching Israel’s blockade of the strip. Haniyeh’s visit is set to include a meeting with the familes of the dead activists.

Euronews

Angry Pakistan rejects Afghan charges on Rabbani killing

Pakistan has angrily rejected allegations from Afghan officials that its intelligence agency masterminded the assassination of Kabul’s chief peace negotiator with the Taliban.

Afghan men shout anti-Pakistan slogans during a demonstration in Kabul on Oct. 2, 2011. Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul on Sunday to condemn recent shelling of border towns by Pakistan's army and accusing its powerful spy agency of involvement in the assassination of the country's ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbanİ. (Photo: Reuters)
Afghan men shout anti-Pakistan slogans during a demonstration in Kabul on Oct. 2, 2011. Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul on Sunday to condemn recent shelling of border towns by Pakistan's army and accusing its powerful spy agency of involvement in the assassination of the country's ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbanİ. (Photo: Reuters)

An investigative delegation established by President Hamid Karzai said evidence and a confession provided by a man involved in Burhanuddin Rabbani’s killing on Sept. 20 had revealed that the bomber was Pakistani and the assassination had been plotted in Pakistan.

“Instead of making such irresponsible statements, those in positions of authority in Kabul should seriously deliberate as to why all those Afghans who are favourably disposed towards peace and towards Pakistan are systematically being removed from the scene and killed,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“There is a need to take stock of the direction taken by Afghan Intelligence and security agencies.”

Rabbani’s killing derailed efforts to forge dialogue with the Taliban to end the 10-year war and raised fears of a dangerous widening of Afghanistan’s ethnic rifts.

Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul on Sunday to condemn recent shelling of border areas by Pakistan’s army and accused the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of involvement in Rabbani’s killing.

In another sign of rising Afghan frustration with Islamabad, the peace council which Rabbani headed reiterated earlier comments by Karzai that negotiations should continue, but with Pakistan, rather than the Taliban, suggesting Islamabad was directing some militants from behind the scenes.

Afghan leaders have long questioned Islamabad’s promises to help bring peace to their country. Pakistani intelligence is suspected of ties to militant groups in Afghanistan, especially the Haqqani network, one of the deadliest.

Pakistan sees the group as a strategic asset, a counterweight to the growing influence of rival India in Afghanistan, analysts say.

ISI chief Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha told Reuters last week that Pakistan never provided a single penny or bullet to the Haqqani network.

The network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday his group was not linked to the ISI.

US criticism

Pakistan has also came under sharp criticism from its ally the United States — the source of billions of dollars in aid — over its performance against militancy.

The top US military officer has accused Pakistani intelligence of supporting an attack allegedly carried out by the Haqqani group, which is close to al-Qaeda, on the US Embassy in Kabul on Sept 13.

In the face of Pakistani indignation, the White House and State Department appeared to quietly distance themselves from the remarks by Admiral Mike Mullen, who stepped down this week as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The United States wants Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqani network, which it believes is based in North Waziristan in the Afghan border, and other anti-American militants.

Pakistan says it has sacrificed more than any other country that joined the US-led global campaign against militancy after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, losing thousands of soldiers and security forces.

It has been presenting that argument more vigorously since US special forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in a secret raid in May in a Pakistani town, where he apparently had been living for years.

Analysts doubt Pakistan will launch an offensive against the Haqqanis, but might instead try to rein them in to avoid further friction with Washington.

“I think Pakistan will definitely at least try to give an impression and also make some efforts towards distancing itself from them so that it doesn’t get embarrassed,” said retired army general and analyst Talat Masood.

“I don’t think they will launch a military operation, but they will make sure that they (the Haqqanis) don’t create more problems for us.”

Instead of escalating attacks on militants, Pakistan seems to be searching for other ways to create stability in the unruly tribal areas near the Afghan border that offer sanctuaries.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was quoted by Pakistani newspapers on Monday as saying the government was ready to talk peace with militants.

“We should give peace a chance in the first place by holding dialogue with militants,” The Nation quoted him as saying.

The Express Tribune quoted him as saying: “If negotiations fail to work. The government will launch military operations in the tribal areas.”

Previous government peace deals with militants provided the groups with space to impose what many Pakistanis say was a reign of terror designed to impose their view of Islam in areas they controlled.

 

 

03 October 2011, Monday / REUTERS, ISLAMABAD

Islamabad may break with its longtime allies

Pakistani leaders reject US allegations that its spy agency is supporting Haqqanis with a statement also calling for peace with Afghan militants. The move is likely to bring Pakistan to a crossroads with longtime allies the US and Afghanistan
Activists of Pakistan’s religious hardline party Jamiat Ulema Islam, or JUI, shout anti-US slogans during a protest rally to condemn US threats in Islamabad on Friday.
Activists of Pakistan’s religious hardline party Jamiat Ulema Islam, or JUI, shout anti-US slogans during a protest rally to condemn US threats in Islamabad on Friday.

U.S. missile strike targeting a vehicle killed three suspected militants in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border Friday, two Pakistani officials said. The latest strike comes amid increasing tensions between Islamabad and Washington following a recent claim by top U.S. military officer Adm. Mike Mullen that Pakistan’s main spy agency had backed the al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.

More than 40 political party leaders in Pakistan signed a resolution after a 10-hour meeting in the capital called by Prime Minister Reza Yousuf Gilani to formulate a response to fresh American claims. U.S. officials say the Haqqani group, which carries out attacks against American targets in Afghanistan, is based on the Pakistani side of the Afghan borde.

The vaguely worded resolution, born of compromise between the country’s feuding parties and reflective of many of their anti-American and pro-Islamist views, called for peace with insurgents in Afghanistan. It also said the country should seek dialogue with Pakistanis in the tribal regions close to Afghanistan, apparently in reference to militants there battling the Pakistani state.

Kabul approaches India

The head of the army and the country’s main intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which together control Islamabad’s policy toward Afghanistan, addressed the meeting, which was closed to the media. Though U.S. demands were not met in the resolution, it emphasized the friendly relations with Afghanistan. “We need to further enhance our brotherly bilateral relations with Afghanistan at three levels on a priority basis: government to government, institution to institution and people to people,” it said.

The resolution comes as Afghanistan’s president and other senior leaders announced Thursday that they were rethinking the country’s relationship with Pakistan and its negotiations with the Taliban because talks had yielded so little. Parallel with the U.S. stance, many Afghans have long accused Pakistan and its ISI of backing insurgent groups to further Islamabad’s own interests. As a result, the leaders said, they planned to work closely with the United States, Europe and India to plan the country’s future, the New York Times reported. “Despite three years of talks, coming and going, good intentions and efforts, made by Afghanistan for peace and the initiation of good relations with Pakistan, the Pakistani government has not taken any measures for closing down its terrorist safe havens nor prevented the training and equipping of terrorists on its soil,” the Afghan statement said.

One measure of Afghan frustration was the statement’s specific mention of the prospect of a strategic partnership with India, in addition to the United States and Europe. Pakistan considers India its archenemy, and by mentioning it, Afghanistan appeared to be positioning itself in opposition to Pakistan, despite their longtime relationship.

 

 

Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.

Friday, September 30, 2011

ISLAMABAD / BRUSSELS / PESHAWAR – Hürriyet Daily News