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Pakistan News And Discussion-10
<b>3 ‘would-be attackers’ die in explosion</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->MULTAN/SAHIWAL, Feb 24: Three people died when the explosives they were carrying on a bicycle exploded accidentally in Chichawatni, Sahiwal district, on Saturday morning
Adeel and Akhtar were students of the Madarssa Azizul Aloom and Maqsood belonged to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. The three were aged between 22 and 30 years.

Maqsood’s head was separated from his body. His identity was confirmed by his mother in the evening.

Police believed that the bombers’ prime target was Sahiwal police chief Syed Javed Hussain Shah, who during his posting in Vehari had killed banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi chief Riaz Basra in an encounter<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Headline should be <b>-"Three Muhajdeen Martyred in explosion"</b>
Or <b>"Three Jihadist met 76x3 huris after Explosion"</b>

<b>Short Circuit in Air Vacuum Reduces 60 Vehicles to Ashes in Hyderabad – Sindh</b> <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Old news, don't know if it's already been posted. Found it in a roundabout way:
April 30, 2006
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Burqa-clad assailants kill two in D. I. Khan</b>
By Our Correspondent

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, April 29: Two men were killed and another was injured when two people wearing burqas fired on them in a cloth shop in the Gomal Market here on Saturday.

Nasir Khan, his nephew, Mohammad Shah, and a customer Hazrat Khan, were present in the shop when the two men, hiding weapons under their burqas, opened fire on them, injuring them.

Other shopkeepers took the injured men to the District Headquarters Hospital where Nasir and Hazrat Khan died. Mohammad Shah is said to be in critical condition.

Panic spread in the city after the incident and all markets in the bazaar were closed.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Bush to Warn Pakistan to Act on Terror </b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 — President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.

The decision came after the White House concluded that General Musharraf is failing to live up to commitments he made to Mr. Bush during a visit here in September. General Musharraf insisted then, both in private and public, that a peace deal he struck with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would not diminish the hunt for the leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban or their training camps.

Now, American intelligence officials have concluded that the terrorist infrastructure is being rebuilt, and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has flagged.


<b>Pakistan is now the fifth-largest recipient of American aid. Mr. Bush has proposed $785 million in aid to Pakistan in his</b>  <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->he Washington Post
<b>Rice: Pakistan Must Control Border Area </b>
The Associated Press
Monday, February 26, 2007; 12:51 AM
WASHINGTON -- The White House is pressuring Pakistan to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban operatives in the lawless border area with Afghanistan that President Bush recently said was "wilder than the Wild West."

The move comes amid growing concern in Congress and the administration that terrorist forces are regrouping in the border area and preparing for a spring offensive in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the administration was concerned that al-Qaida was attempting to stage a comeback.

<b>"I don't doubt that al-Qaida has tried to regenerate some of its leadership," </b>Rice said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't doubt that. I don't think that anybody would claim that this is the same organization or the same kind of organization that operated out of Afghanistan.

<b>"But we have to be vigilant, and that's why we are working with the Pakistanis, we are working with the Afghans, we're working worldwide in our intelligence network to continue to degrade this institution, this organization worldwide and on the Afghan border,"</b> the secretary said.

Pakistan's border regions have long been suspected to be the hiding places for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. Pakistan, an Islamic country, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of U.S. foreign aid.

Rice, asked whether Musharraf was constrained in how tough he could be, said, "I'm certainly aware that there are political issues in Pakistan. To not say that would be not to face reality."

But she said Musharraf has been "a stalwart fighter" and himself a target of al-Qaida assassination attempts.

"And the Pakistani leadership knows that al-Qaida would like nothing better than to destabilize Pakistan and to use Pakistan as the base rather than Afghanistan for its operations," Rice said. "And so we have excellent cooperation with the Pakistanis on hunting down al-Qaida, on working to disrupt its network. More al-Qaida have been caught in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia than any other place in the world.

"And so they are working very hard with us," the secretary said. "We have excellent cooperation on that.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, earlier this month, traveled to Pakistan for talks with Musharraf, about the terrorist traffic across its border into Afghanistan. Recent sharp criticism of Pakistan's porous border has triggered angry denials from Musharraf.

Asked whether he had talked with Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf about the hunt for al-Qaida fugitive Osama bin Lden, Gates said he would not "get into specifics" about their talks.

But, <b>said Gates, "If I were Osama bin Laden, I'd keep looking over my shoulder." </b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Mudy, this is the Reuters report on the same that will vanish tomorrow. Pasting here for posterity.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Bush to warn Pakistan on combating militants: report</b>
Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:49AM EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf warning that the new Democratic-led Congress could cut aid to his country unless it does more to crack down on al Qaeda operatives, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The decision came after the White House concluded that Musharraf, a key ally in Washington's "War on Terror," was not living up to commitment he made to Bush in September to combat militant groups, the newspaper said, citing senior administration officials.

Pakistan says it is doing all it can to stop militants infiltrating Afghanistan, but the U.S. military says cross-border attacks around the Afghan frontier increased sharply last year.

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the terrorist infrastructure was being rebuilt, and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has flagged, The New York Times reported.

"He's made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working," one senior administration official told the newspaper. "The message we're sending to him now is that the only thing that matters is results."

"We think the Pakistani aid is at risk in Congress," said the official, who did not want to be identified.

The House of Representatives recently adopted a bill requiring Bush to certify Pakistan is making "all possible efforts" to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its sovereign control as a condition of continued U.S. military aid. The Senate was considering a response to pressure Islamabad to do more combat militant groups.

Pakistan receives about $850 million annually in U.S. economic, military and counternarcotics aid and about $350 million of that could be affected by the House bill, congressional experts say.

Under Musharraf, Pakistan became a key ally after the September 11 attacks by withdrawing its support for the Taliban government, sharing intelligence with U.S. officials and rounding up suspected Islamic militants.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

[center]<b><span style='color:red'>PAKISTAN’S ECONOMY – MYTH OR REALITY?</span></b>[/center]

[center]<b><span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>The puzzling, high economic growth rate</span></b> <!--emo&:flush--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/Flush.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='Flush.gif' /><!--endemo--> [/center]

AS elections approach, the official projection of “economic miracle” achieved by the government reminds one of a similar media campaign by former BJP government of “Shining India” before the marginalised masses sent it packing. In Pakistan, the American economic model, now being pursued, has enriched the already wealthy at the cost of grinding poverty..

According to its spin doctors, indicators of” galloping” economic progress are things such as GDP growth averaging seven per cent per annum over the past three years. (Please ignore the misery of the three years before that!)

* Per capita income doubling to $800, perching us precariously on the bottom rung of middle-income countries instead of rubbing shoulders with the poorest nations of Africa.

* Foreign exchange reserves at $13 billion, up from less than half a billion in 1999 (never mind the fact that it still represents barely five months of imports).

* A flood of 9/11 motivated inward remittances (likely to hit $5.5 billion this year) and foreign direct investment (perhaps as much as $3 billion) eager for a share in phenomenal returns available to risk capital in this country;

* And, the KSE-100 index leaping tenfold from 1,200 to 12,000 propelling market capitalisation to over Rs3.5 trillion.

On the other hand, embarrassing statistics such as follows are ignored:

Official consumer price inflation of nine per cent per annum (100 per cent higher than it was in Oct. 1999.; largest trade ($12 billion) and the current account ($5.5 billion) deficits— both in absolute as well as relative terms in 60 years history of the country; serious crime statistics reflecting 100 per cent growth over the past six years( suicide bombings, and citizens’ disappearances); provincial disharmony, secessionist mayhem across Balochistan, and Taliban resurgence in the NWFP, ( grim reminders of a national fabric being torn asunder).

The assertion that the country has enjoyed annual GDP growth averaging seven per cent per .annum over the past three years needs to be examined closely.. There is a simple economic concept called the ""capital input-output ratio"". Put simply, it states that annual GDP growth cannot be greater than a third of the ratio of incremental capital formation to GDP. In other words, if our annual savings run around 10 per cent of GDP, (14 per cent if we include inward remittances), then our maximum GDP growth cannot exceed 4.7 per cent per annum.

So, when the government claimed that the GDP grew at 8.6 per cent during 2004-05, it implied that during 2004-05, national savings (domestic plus inward remittances) allowed us to invest at a breathtaking rate of 25.8 per cent of GDP. With perhaps the lowest saving rate in the world, Pakistan is simply not capable of achieving such high rates of investment.

But, if you were to talk to the government's spin doctors, they are likely tell you that because of great efficiency in re-investment, our capital input-output ratio is not 3:1 but closer to 2:1. In other words, we can achieve greater growth with less than 50 per cent of the resources as compared to the rest of the world. How cute?"

Now some hard proof about the number-juggling. The following data is gleaned from the Federal Bureau of Statistics and the SBP internet sites (all figures in rupees billion):

Our economy even in these best years as claimed by the government…has never grown at rates over 2-4 per cent per annum. In fact, if we account for the 2.1 per cent per annum. growth of our population--, in per capita terms, the economy has remained almost stagnant.

Let's now examine the government's claim of having doubled per capita income to $800 over the past six years For a number to double in six years signifies an annual compound growth of 12.25 per cent. Alas, this kind of stellar growth has not even been achieved by China!

<b>The real mechanism of the official flummery was, however, quite mundane. First, it began by restating GDP for the benchmark year 1999-00 from $460 per capita to $650 per capita on the pretext that every country in the world periodically readjusts its accounting base year. Now, with this clever device apart, it simply applied its inflated annual growth rates of recent years ...you have a per capita GDP of $800.

There is yet another trickery hidden here. The $800 per capita is by itself an inflated number in another sense. It is derived by dividing our 2005-06 GDP of $124 billion by a deflated population figure of 155 million.

According to CIA World Facts (www.cia.gov), <span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>our actual population as of June 2006 was 166 million. Therefore, dividing $124 billion by 166 million yields a per capita income of $747 and not $800.</span></b> <!--emo&:liar liar--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/liar.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='liar.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Now the story of our foreign exchange reserves. From dollar one billion or even less per annum, our annual remittances have reached $5.5 billion per annum. In sum, over the past five years, this incremental inflow has exceeded $16 billion. Should it then be any surprise that our foreign exchange reserves are today $13 billion? The question is how can the government take credit for events engineered by Al-Quaida and President Bush?"

However, the story doesn't end here. All these massive dollar inflows needed an outlet. In a country possessed of zero manpower skills, a broken infrastructure, high cost of doing business, obstructive bureaucracy, and political instability, who would invest in productive assets with payback of 5-10 years?

Is it any wonder that real estate prices quadrupled and the stock market went up by a factor of 10? Why? Because there are no other options unless you wish to keep your money in banks at rates that yield negative returns of 4-5 per cent per annum.

The country's entire industrial sector is in shambles. Exports of textiles, leather goods, and hand-knotted carpets-- traditionally accounting for 80 per cent of annual exports--…are in steep decline. And what does the government do? It waxes eloquent about our burgeoning growth in auto sector that produces overpriced shoddy products that are likely to die a natural death given a whiff of international competition.

Countries do not develop by having international fast food chains mushrooming everywhere. Nor do they prosper by giving a cell phone to all and sundry. Economic growth is achieved by leveraging national assets that provide a country with an internationally competitive edge. In our case it can only mean one thing...our abundant natural mineral resource, fertile land and abundant river waters. This is where we need to invest heavily...not in IT., telecom, or even oil and gas. Do you know that we have four billion tons of test-proven coal reserves, and produce only four million tons per annum? Our coal power generation is barely four per cent of total power production whereas in next door India it is 70 per cent.

The economic reasons for a comprehensive coal policy makes eminent sense. In terms of energy content (calorific value), sub-bituminous coal averages 9,000 BTUs per pound vs twice that for crude oil. With current crude prices averaging $440 per ton ($60 per barrel), we could be saving $220 for every ton of indigenous coal production that replaces imported oil. If we could simply replace import of three million tons of furnace oil with six million tons of local coal production, that alone would trim our current $7 billion annual oil import bill by 20 per cent.

In terms of industrial economics and employment generation , the comparison is even starker. Our private sector mines sub-bituminous coal in Quetta and Khewra (in the Salt Range) and sells it to brick kilns for Rs3,000 per ton. Its current crude oil price equivalent is thus $100 per ton (or $14 per barrel of oil). Simple arithmetic tells us that even if the government paid a 100 per cent cash subsidy to producers for every ton of coal mined indigenously, it would save $240 dollars for each ton of furnace or crude oil thus replaced.

Huge coal reserves in Thar (Sindh) were discovered 25 years ago. However, no government has since been able to muster the $3-4 billion infrastructure investment needed to bring this easy 10-12 million tons per annum production valued at over $2 billion per annum on stream. It is unlikely that this government will do so either.

Two years ago, when international oil prices began rocketing upwards, the government announced great plans about tripling our national output of coal in 2-3 years by the simple device of forcing large power users like power stations and cement factories to use coal instead of expensive imported furnace oil.

Of course, this announcement greatly militated against the interests of our industrial lobby. It immediately swung into action claiming that our indigenous coal had low BTU and high sulphur content, which would entail large investments in scrubbing towers...an outlay the industry was reluctant to undertake. Predictably, the government knuckled under and instead of promoting local production of coal, it made import of coal duty free. So, instead of reducing the national import bill paid in hard currency, it did just the reverse. Thus, today we have over 80,000 tons of imported Australian coal sitting on the docks in Karachi at landed cost of $70 (PKR 4,200) per ton.

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->President George W. Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf warning that the new Democratic-led Congress could cut aid to his country unless it does more to crack down on al Qaeda operatives, The New York Times reported on Sunday<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
He just did through Cheney. Pakisatn may lose funding. Cheney made a surpise stop in Pakistan and met Mushy.
<b>Cheney asks Pakistan to stop al Qaeda 'regrouping'</b>
Story Highlights
• U.S. vice president ask Pakistan to help combat Taliban spring offensive
• NEW: Bad weather prevents Cheney visit with Afghan leader
• Al Qaeda may be regrouping in Pakistan tribal areas, U.S. says
• New York Times says Bush warning Pakistan it risks U.S. aid
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->SLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney warned Monday that al Qaeda is "regrouping" in Pakistan's remote border and sought President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's help in a stiffened push against Taliban and al Qaeda militants, Musharraf's office said.

Cheney's unannounced stopover en route to Afghanistan came as British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett also held talks with Musharraf and expressed concern about suspected militant safe havens near the Afghan frontier.

"Cheney expressed U.S. apprehensions of regrouping of al Qaeda in the tribal areas and called for concerted efforts in countering the threat," according to a faxed statement from the presidential office.

"He expressed serious U.S. concerns on the intelligence being picked up of an impending Taliban and al Qaeda 'spring offensive' against allied forces in Afghanistan," the statement said.

Cheney made no public comment after the talks in Musharraf's office in Islamabad.
<b>No US dictation acceptable regarding tribal areas operatio: FO</b> oh really!!!! <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has termed as mere speculations a report by American media about President Bush's warning on Taliban and Al-Qaeda adding Islamabad does not accept dictation from any side or any source.

This was stated by Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam at the weekly news briefing here Monday.

To a question she said Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or any source. She explained that Pakistan has a comprehensive approach in tribal areas that includes military action where necessary, political and economic action and a development strategy<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

[center]<b><span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>Germany bans PIA’s A310s and 747s?</span></b> <!--emo&:flush--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/Flush.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='Flush.gif' /><!--endemo--> [/center]

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Republic of Germany has cast the first stone against the Pakistan International Airlines by banning its Airbus A310 and Boeing 747 aircraft from landing in Frankfurt, forcing PIA to cancel its flight PK761 today from Islamabad to Frankfurt via Istanbul and back via the same route. PIA sources told Daily Times that PK761 would fly to Istanbul at the scheduled departure time from Islamabad, and return to Islamabad the following day without going on to Frankfurt. It was learnt that PIA’s flights to Paris might also be affected shortly. Meanwhile, it has been found that PIA has been making efforts to legally defend itself against an anticipated EU decision to ban all but seven of its aircraft. PIA is also planning s alternative routes to North America. staff report

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>$10bln US Aid To Pakistan Questioned</b>
27/02/2007 01:32 PM
Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent

<b>The United States has given Pakistan more than US$10 billion in the five years since the September 11 attacks but there is little accountability for how the money is spent and it has afforded Washington little leverage over Islamabad, researchers said on Monday. </b>

A report by two experts with the Center for Strategic and International Studies has highlighted doubts about the effectiveness of the Bush administration's strategy of enlisting Pakistan as a front-line ally in trying to combat al Qaeda and resurgent Taliban militants.

US Vice President Dick Cheney visited Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday to urge Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to take tougher action against militants on his side of the lawless border, where US commanders say radical fighters are sheltering and training.

The US strategy "has forestalled disaster for five-plus years but there is no Plan B and the costs of crisis in Pakistan are too great to live without workable options." Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet wrote in an article for the spring issue of The Washington Quarterly magazine.

"...it is worth asking whether US policy has reached its limits and if it is now being guided more by inertia than strategy. Washington's alliance with (Pakistani President Pervez) Musharraf may have run its course."

Cheney's visit came as The New York Times reported that President George W. Bush has decided to send "an unusually tough message" to Musharraf that Congress would cut aid if he did not do more to combat extremists.

The House of Representatives recently adopted a bill requiring Bush to certify Pakistan is making "all possible efforts" to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its control as a condition of continued U.S. military aid.

The Senate could recommend a legislative proposal as early as this week. Increasing and reorienting US aid to Pakistan is under consideration, as well as a cutback.

"We're not going to get anywhere by simply saying, 'let's do exactly what we're doing for the last six years' and hope the outcome will be different," said a Senate aide said.

The CSIS report said the United States had given Pakistan more than US$10 billion in military, economic and development assistance since September 11 and perhaps even more in covert intelligence and military aid.

Still, "Washington finds itself with relatively little leverage to influence events in Pakistan," the report said.

Cohen and Chollet said "there is little accountability in how Pakistan spends US money" and many key officials in various government agencies do not know the full extent of assistance provided.

The army is Pakistan's dominant institution and receives most of the US aid, reflecting an approach heavily weighted toward short-term military cooperation with little emphasis on ensuring Pakistan's long-term stability, they said.

Even when a cease-fire along the border was in place between June and September last year, Pakistan sought and received US$100 million in US reimbursements for troop operations "raising questions about what they are being reimbursed for," said South Asia expert Alan Kronstadt of the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Nothing will change, within one week Pakis will produce some B or C grade Talib or may some gangster and will name him Al-Queda terrorist. Whole media will glow with News "Frontline Ally risking everything to keep Bush happy". Everything will go back to normal, Mush will sit again with begging bowl.
<b>Pakistan owes Rs 300 cr to India as pre-partition debt share </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->However, the Indian goverment has not added any interest to this amount, perhaps as a goodwill gesture, and the neighbouring country's debt burden would otherwise have increased manifold.

The amount stood at Rs 300 crore in the 1990-91 Survey as well. It has not been written off from government accounts in the hope that Pakistan may one day consider it fit to repay the historical debt<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

[center]<b><span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>PIA may get partial ban on flights to Europe</span></b> <!--emo&:flush--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/Flush.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='Flush.gif' /><!--endemo--> [/center]

Cheers <!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<b>Killer kite festival battle for Pakistan's soul </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) - A spring kite festival in Pakistan has become the battleground between the forces of moderation and extremism after the deaths of 14 people including a child.

Islamists have called for the banning of the Basant festival which took place at the weekend in Lahore and surrounding Punjab province -- while secularist President Pervez Musharraf personally participated in the event.
<b>Bomb within earshot of Cheney kills 23 </b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->BAGRAM, Afghanistan - In what the Taliban claimed was an assassination attempt, a suicide bomber attacked the main gate of a U.S. military base Tuesday within earshot of Vice President        Dick Cheney. The explosion killed 23 people, including two Americans, and delivered a propaganda blow that undercut the U.S. military and the weak Afghan government it supports. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Wednesday February 28, 08:05 AM
<b>Cheney vows to keep backing Afghanistan</b>
US Vice President Dick Cheney has pledged to keep supporting Afghanistan's efforts to build its security forces and defeat Taliban insurgents, in talks with President Hamid Karzai.

The pair met in Kabul hours after a Taliban suicide bomber struck the US military base in Bagram as Cheney was preparing to travel to the capital for the talks. At least 14 people were killed, including three foreigners.

Their talks focused on the "war on terror (and) strengthening of peace and regional security," a statement from Karzai's office said.

Cheney pledged continued US support "in providing security, reconstruction and the war on terror," it said.

He noted in particular that the United States would assist in the building of Afghan institutions and equipping the national army and police, it said.

"He emphasised that the United States will remain with Afghanistan as long as it is needed."

Karzai in turn assured Cheney that his government would maintain its efforts to stop opium, of which Afghanistan is the world's top producer.

Cheney arrived in Afghanistan on Monday from Pakistan, where he urged President Pervez Musharraf to step up the hunt for Islamic militants said to have sanctuaries in tribal areas along the Afghan border.

The main US military base in Afghanistan was attacked by a suicide bomber while Cheney was there.

The attack killed up to 23 people and wounded 20 more. The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney was the target.

Cheney told reporters he heard "a loud boom" and that the Secret Service informed him of the attack and that officials moved him to a bomb shelter on Bagram.

"As the situation settled down and they had a better sense of what was going on, I went back to my room," Cheney said.

Asked if the Taliban were trying to send a message with the attack, Cheney said that fighters "clearly try to find ways to question the authority of the central government."

"Striking at the Bagram (base) with a suicide bomber, I suppose, is one way to do that," he said. "It shouldn't affect our behaviour."

Major William Mitchell said it did not appear the explosion was intended as a threat to the vice-president. "He wasn't near the site of the explosion," Mitchell said. "He was safely within the base at the time of the explosion."

But a purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said Cheney was the target of the attack, which Ahmadi said was carried out by an Afghan called Mullah Abdul Rahim from Logar province.

"We knew that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base," Ahmadi told AP telephone from an undisclosed location. "The attacker was trying to reach Cheney."

Mitchell noted that Cheney's overnight stay occurred only after a meeting with Karzai on Monday was cancelled because of bad weather.

"I think it's a far-fetched allegation," he said, referring to the Taliban claim. "The vice-president wasn't even supposed to be here overnight, so this would have been a surprise to everybody."

The explosion happened near the first of at least three gated checkpoints vehicles must pass through before gaining access to Bagram.

The sprawling base houses 5,100 US troops and 4,000 other coalition forces and contractors. High security areas within the base are blocked by their own checkpoints. It was unclear how an attacker could expect to penetrate the base, locate the vice president and get close to him without detection.

"We maintain a high-level of security here at all times. Our security measures were in place and the killer never had access to the base," said Lt. Col. James E. Bonner, the base operations commander. "When he realised he would not be able to get onto the base he attacked the local population."

South Korea's Defence Ministry said one of its troops stationed in Bagram, Sgt. Yoon Jang-ho, 27, was killed in the explosion. South Korea has about 200 engineers and medics in Bagram.

Cheney, who spent the night at Bagram, left the base about two hours after the 10 am blast. The explosion sent up a plume of smoke visible by reporters inside the base travelling with Cheney, and American military officials declared a "red alert" inside the base.

In Pakistan, Cheney had pressed President Pervez Musharraf to do more about the Taliban and other militants using its territory for shelter and training.

Citing US officials, ABC News reported CIA deputy director Stephen Kappes had also shown Musharraf "compelling" CIA evidence of al Qaeda's resurgence on Pakistani soil.

The CIA evidence was said to include surveillance satellite photos pinpointing the locations of several new al Qaeda camps in the Pakistani border province of Waziristan, ABC reported.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
(1) T-ban say that Cheney was target
(2) US side argues that they could not have known as Cheney's stay there was a late decision
(3) Cheney had been talking to Poisonous Mushroom of Terroristan before coming to Afghanistan
(4) Terroristan is known to harbour T-ban and AQ: who are the ISI's special little helpers

Could Cheney, during his talks with Poisonous Mushroom (PM), have unthinkingly dropped information about his stay in the US military base in Afghanistan? Or could his entourage have done so to any Paki security personnel? Then President PM of Terroristan or TSP's ISI might have told their friendly contacts (in the Afghan region concerned) to aim for Cheney. He had after all insulted/chastised their Grand Mushroom and the Land of the Pure/Poor.
That could explain the Afghan T-ban's claim to know of Cheney's stay.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->(2) US side argues that they could not have known as Cheney's stay there was a late decision<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Mushy knew it so, Taliban should have no problem.
It was Mushy's message to Chenney, I am the leader of Wild Wild Wilder West <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Feb. 27, 2007
<b>Spy chief pushes for action in Pakistan</b>
By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer

More must be done to go after al-Qaida, which is trying to establish training camps and other operations in some of Pakistan's most ungoverned territory, the new U.S. spy chief said Tuesday.

"It's something we're very worried about and very concerned about," Mike McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing on global threats.

McConnell said the U.S. believes al-Qaida's top two leaders — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri — are hiding in the rugged frontiers of northwestern Pakistan and are attempting to establish an operational base there. He noted that al-Qaida's camps are in an area that has never been governed by any state or outside power.
(US $10bn to Terroristan - see post 52 - is precisely going to be funding AQ. So US, if you do keep donating, don't whine about the repercussions. 'kay?)

McConnell's push for action along the Afghan-Pakistani border echoed concerns raised by Vice President Dick Cheney during a face-to-face meeting Monday with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Cheney was accompanied by Deputy CIA Director Stephen Kappes — a sign that intelligence played a strong role in the case made to Musharraf.

Musharraf has insisted his forces have already "done the maximum" possible against extremists in their territory, and he said other allies also shoulder responsibility in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.
(His forces have done enough alright - enough terrorism in India. Fail to see what other 'allies' in the war on terror are in this league? With friends like the Perverse Poisonous Mushroom and the ISI, who needs enemies?)

But U.S. officials have grown increasingly concerned about intelligence suggesting the Taliban and al-Qaida plan a spring offensive against allied forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

They are also worried about the autonomy of al-Qaida and Taliban operatives in Pakistan after the government signed a peace deal with the tribal leaders of the region, North Waziristan, in September.

In that agreement, tribal elders promised to respect the supremacy of the Pakistani government and curtail attacks in Afghanistan. In return, Musharraf gave back some of the tribes' weapons, released some prisoners and withdrew from posts inside North Waziristan.

At Tuesday's hearing, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the tribes have not abided by most of the agreement's terms. And McConnell said U.S. intelligence believes al-Qaida's training and related capabilities increased as a result of the deal.

Lawmakers were skeptical, too.

"Long-term prospects for eliminating the Taliban threat appear dim so long as the sanctuary remains in Pakistan, and there are no encouraging signs that Pakistan is eliminating it," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich.

In his first month as national intelligence director, McConnell said he's been briefed about al-Qaida's efforts to reconstitute itself in Pakistan's northwest frontier.

He said the group does not have the thousands of fighters, training in multiple camps, as they did in Afghanistan before the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. "That's gone," he said.

But McConnell said U.S. intelligence believes al-Qaida still has volunteers committed to carrying out "heinous attacks" akin to Sept. 11, 2001. And while three-quarters of al-Qaida's leaders have been taken out, they have been replaced by equally committed jihadists. The upside: McConnell said the new generation doesn't have as much experience.

Pressuring al-Qaida is not without its risks for Musharraf, who faces an election this fall. McConnell acknowledged that efforts to pursue the terror group must be balanced with the desire to keep Musharraf — a moderate and a U.S. ally — in charge of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal.
(Big joke, works on so many levels. Take some time out to laugh.)

The testimony from Maples and McConnell was part of the Senate panel's annual review of global threats, including the latest assessments on Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Touching on those hot spots, they said:

_Iraqi troops are taking the lead in securing parts of their country, but much work remains to improve the number and quality of those forces. "They are better today than they were a year ago, but they are still not where we need them to be," McConnell said.

Maples said two of the three brigades promised by Iraq have moved into Baghdad as part of the new security plan, but he acknowledged that those units have only 43 percent to 82 percent of their intended troops, according to ranges he has seen.

_On Iran, McConnell said that the regime could develop a nuclear weapon early in the next decade, but it will more likely take the country's scientists until 2015. But it's not clear whether the country will have a delivery system at the same time.

_Maples said the United States is seeing North Korea take initial steps to comply with the Feb. 13 agreement on its nuclear program, including inspection of its plutonium-producing Yongbyon nuclear facility. But there are other steps to which the U.S. will have to pay close attention, he said.

McConnell's top adviser on North Korea, Joseph DeTrani, said the U.S. continues to insist that North Korea declare all of its nuclear programs. But he backtracked a bit from a previous U.S. view of analysts, who had "high confidence" that North Korea was buying material for a uranium production program.

Now, he said, the U.S. believes the program exists "at the midconfidence level."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

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