Mar 07 2006

What’s Up In Pakistan?

Published by at 1:21 pm under All General Discussions,Pakistan

There is a lot of action in Pakistan these days. The press is focused on the rumor mongering and supposed tensions between Afghanistand and Pakistan, and no doubt this is one element in what is going on. I wrote recently about the military activities in the Taliban friendly norther provinces and the possible emergence of a new leader for radical Islam. But now top US Commander General Abizaid is in Pakistan as well:

Top U.S. military commander Gen. John Abizaid arrived in Pakistan’s capital Tuesday on a two-day visit to discuss a range of issues, including increasing tensions between Islamabad and Kabul over fugitive militants, officials said.

Well, there is always some cover story when needed, isn’t there? Well, to me this is a more telling story to what is probably coming in the next few days:

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao Tuesday said that more military and paramilitary troops would be deployed in the troubled North Waziristan tribal region to reinforce the ongoing operation against local and foreign militants.

“Currently there are about 78,000 military plus militia forces deployed in the region but we have decided to increase both the number of troops as well as security check posts in the tribal area,” Sherpao told reporters here.

Hmmm, more troops. Another interesting tidbit;

So far, Pakistan has captured about 700 suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives and handed over many of them to the US.

That is a potentially huge choir of voices that could be singing their songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bush’s visit was intended to provide some personal reassurances to Pakistani leaders America would be standing behind them, whatever their near term actions were to be. And notice this juicy strategic carrot that would help Pakistand immensely (not to mention alleviate Iran’s need for nuclear power by replacing it with Natural Gas turbines):

The White House said on Tuesday it still opposes a proposed natural gas pipeline linking energy-rich Iran with India, clarifying remarks by President George W. Bush that seemed to soften U.S. opposition to the project.

Bush had seemed to suggest a shift in policy when he said during a visit to Pakistan on Friday that “our beef with Iran is not the pipeline, our beef with Iran is the fact that they want to develop a nuclear weapon.”

India and Iran have been discussing a $7 billion natural gas pipeline that would run through Pakistan.

Iran has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world behind Russia — about 940 trillion cubic feet. Growing Asian economies, including India and Pakistan, are scrambling to find energy sources to feed industrial expansion.

“As we stated before, the U.S. government does not support the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline,” said White House National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones.

Jones said while the United States recognized the growing energy needs of India and Pakistan, “we have repeatedly expressed concerns about international participation in energy projects with Iran.”

Actually, it would be better for Iran to go into the natural gas business than the nuclear power business – and the administration knows this. Interesting nexus of topics today in that region.

Update: Seems the US General overseeing Europe and NATO is seeing the near term demise of the Taliban remnants:

The end is drawing near for remnant Taliban, al Qaeda and other elements seeking to displace the Afghan government for their own purposes, the American general who oversees U.S. troops in Europe and NATO matters said here yesterday.

“I think this is a turning moment for what’s left of the insurgency and also for the criminal element, the narcotics traffickers and all the others, who are working on their own in their own way to destabilize the growth of the (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai government,” Marine Gen. James L. Jones told “CNN Late Edition” host Wolf Blitzer.

Could all just be coincidence.

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