September 22, 2008


Pakistani leaders 'should have been at bombed hotel' (Philippe Naughton, and Zahid Hussain, 9/22/08, Times of London)

Pakistan's top leaders were to have attended a state dinner at the luxury Islamabad hotel devastated in a suicide bomb attack on Saturday but changed venue at the last minute, it emerged today.

Rehman Malik, who heads the Interior Ministry, said that both President Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister, were expected at the Marriott hotel to mark Mr Zardari's inaugural presidential address to Parliament.

“The National Assembly speaker had arranged a dinner for the entire leadership, for the President, Prime Minister and armed services chiefs at the Marriott that day,” Mr Malik told reporters.

“The President and the Prime Minister changed the venue to the Prime Minister’s house. The function was not held at the Marriott, thus the whole leadership was saved."

...that their own security services were in it up to their necks.

The gloves are off in Pakistan (Syed Saleem Shahzad , 9/23/08, Asia Times)

Pakistan is now the declared battleground in this struggle by Islamic militants to strike first against American interests before the United States' war machine completes its preparations to storm the sanctuaries of al-Qaeda in Pakistan. [...]

Approximately 20 kilometers from Islamabad lies Tarbella, the brigade headquarters of Pakistan's Special Operation Task Force (SOTF). Recently, 300 American officials landed at this facility, with the official designation as a "training advisory group", according to documents seen by Asia Times Online.

However, high-level contacts claim this is not as simple as a training program.

In the mid-1990s, during the government of Nawaz Sharif, a special US Central Intelligence Agency unit was based at the same facility, tasked with catching Osama bin Laden. They left after Pervez Musharraf came to power in a coup in 1999.

Now, the US has bought a huge plot of land at Tarbella, several square kilometers, according to sources directly handling the project. Recently, 20 large containers arrived at the facility. They were handled by the Americans, who did not allow any Pakistani officials to inspect them.

Given the size of the containers, it is believed they contain special arms and ammunition and even tanks and armored vehicles - and certainly have nothing to do with any training program.

There is little doubt in the minds of those familiar with the American activities at Tarbella that preparations are being made for an all-out offensive in North-West Frontier Province against sanctuaries belonging to the Taliban and al-Qaeda led by bin Laden. Pakistani security sources maintain more American troops will arrive in the coming days.

Pakistan recently offered ceasefire agreements to militants in the North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan. These were not only summarily rejected, but followed with attacks in the two Waziristans on security forces, and then the Marriott operation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2008 7:46 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus