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A new start with the Muslim world, as pledged by President Obama in his inaugural speech, has a sine qua non: a Palestinian settlement, a quest that has eluded the last five U.S. presidents. Following Israel's invasion of Gaza and its 22-day campaign of airstrikes, tank and artillery bombardment that left 1,300 Palestinians killed for the loss of only 13 Israeli soldiers, a Palestinian state remains a diplomatic chimera.
Russia and neighboring Central Asian nations have agreed to let supplies pass through their territory to American soldiers in Afghanistan, lessening Washington's dependence on dangerous routes through Pakistan, a top U.S. commander said Tuesday.
Securing alternative routes to landlocked Afghanistan has taken on added urgency this year as the United States prepares to double troop numbers there to 60,000 to battle a resurgent Taliban eight years after the U.S.-led invasion.
By Dave Lindorff
Before the odor of burned gunpowder has left the air of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, the US is lecturing India not to go off half-cocked and attack Pakistan, simply because all of the attackers in the terrorist assaults in that city arrived by boat, apparently from neighboring Pakistan. US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are calling on India to engage in a “transparent” and “thorough” investigation into the attacks to establish who was responsible.
How different this is from the American government’s response to the 9-11 attacks in the US!
To End All War: Restoring America as a Champion of Peace and Law
By Mary Ellen O'Connell | Jurist
The First World War ended November 11, 1918. It was to be the end of the war to end all wars. But war did not end, and this country, the champion of the new peace order that followed World War I, is currently involved in the unlawful use of force in four countries. On this 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, America’s new president-elect will do the right thing by recommitting this country — if not to end all war - to end all unlawful war.
Pakistani officials told General David Petraeus on his recent visit to Pakistan to stop the lethal U.S. raids on their country. America has been carrying out attacks on Pakistani soil without Pakistan’s consent. The raids violate Pakistan’s sovereignty; they are a serious violation of Pakistan’s rights under international law, which no state interested in remaining independent can tolerate.
By Pir Zubair Shah and Alan Cowell, New York Times
Islamabad, Pakistan - Missiles fired from a remotely-piloted United States aircraft slammed into a village in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan along the Afghan border on Friday and killed between 10 and 13 people, according to a local intelligence official, a Pakistani reporter and two Pakistani television channels.
State television put the death toll at 10 and other news reports said the dead included eight local people and five foreigners. . The deaths were the latest fatalities in a series of American missile attacks that have drawn increasingly irate protests from Pakistan to senior American officials, including the head of the United States Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the American ambassador here, Anne Patterson.
The Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, and the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, both condemned Friday's attack.
By Jane Perlez, New York Times
Peshawar, Pakistan - The Pakistani government lodged a formal protest Wednesday against American missile attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the nation's tribal areas and told the American ambassador the strikes should be "stopped immediately," the Foreign Ministry said.
Ambassador Anne Patterson was summoned to the ministry two days after a missile strike by a drone aircraft in South Waziristan killed 20 people, including several local Taliban commanders.
Last Friday, a similar strike hit a religious school in North Waziristan, killing eight people, all of them militant fighters, according to local residents. There have been at least 19 American strikes against the militants in the tribal region since August.
By Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation
A parallel new Bush doctrine is emerging, in the last days of the soon-to-be-ancien regime, and it needs to be strangled in its crib. Like the original Bush doctrine -- the one that Sarah Palin couldn't name, which called for preventive military action against emerging threats -- this one also casts international law aside by insisting that the United States has an inherent right to cross international borders in "hot pursuit" of anyone it doesn't like.
They're already applying it to Pakistan, and this week Syria was the target. Is Iran next?
Pakistan said Saturday that China will help it build two more nuclear power plants, offsetting Pakistani frustration over a recent nuclear deal between archrival India and the United States.
The agreement with China was among 12 accords signed during Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's recent visit to Beijing, said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
While Qureshi gave few details, the accord deepens Pakistan's long-standing ties with China at a time when its relations with Washington are strained over the war against terrorism.
U.S. officials including Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who arrived in Islamabad on Saturday for talks, have rejected Pakistani calls for equal treatment with India on nuclear power.
Officially, the central bank holds $8.14 billion (£4.65 billion) of foreign currency, but if forward liabilities are included, the real reserves may be only $3 billion - enough to buy about 30 days of imports like oil and food.
Nine months ago, Pakistan had $16 bn in the coffers.
The government is engulfed by crises left behind by Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler who resigned the presidency in August. High oil prices have combined with endemic corruption and mismanagement to inflict huge damage on the economy.
Pakistan Raid Start Of Concerted Bid To Hit Al-Qaida
by Tom Gjelten and Tom Bowman | NPR.org
NPR has learned that the raid by helicopter-borne U.S. Special Operations forces in Pakistan last week was not an isolated incident but part of a three-phase plan, approved by President Bush, to strike at Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaida leadership.
The plan calls for a much more aggressive military campaign, said one source, familiar with the presidential order, which gives the green light for the military to take part in the operations. The plan represents an 11th-hour effort to hammer al-Qaida until the Bush administration leaves office, two government officials told NPR.
"Definitely, the gloves have come off," said a source who has been briefed on the plan. "This was only Phase 1 of three phases."
A Wild Frontier
By Lakki Marwat | The Economist
It will take more than American missiles to bring order to Pakistan’s north-western border region
AMERICA and Pakistan both deny it; but it appears that on September 15th they fought a short war. America started it. Local reports suggest that, under cover of darkness, two helicopter-loads of its soldiers crossed on foot from Afghanistan into the Pakistani tribal area—and terrorist haven—of South Waziristan. This followed an American policy, allegedly authorised by President George Bush in July, of launching raids into Pakistan without its government’s approval. But, on this occasion, Pakistani border troops responded as to the act of aggression that it constituted: shooting over the heads of the advancing Americans, forcing them back.
A suspected car bomb caused a huge explosion outside the Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital on Saturday and the Dawn television station said at least 17 people had been killed.
Note: CNN was reporting at least 20 dead; the number continues to climb.
A reporter at the scene told CNN that as many as 200 people were feared to be inside the building.
Television images showed flames and smoke pouring out of the hotel and bodies being carried away.
"The explosion happened as a car reached the barricade outside the hotel," a senior police official said, adding that it appeared to have been a suicide attack.
A Reuters witness said he could see fires in at least two places in the hotel and at least 20 cars parked on the street outside had been destroyed.
The George W. Bush administration's decision to launch commando raids and step up missiles strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda figures in the tribal areas of Pakistan followed what appears to have been the most contentious policy process over the use of force in Bush's eight-year presidency.
That decision has stirred such strong opposition from the Pakistani military and government that it is now being revisited. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Pakistan Tuesday for the second time in three weeks, and U.S. officials and sources just told Reuters that any future raids would be approved on a mission-by-mission basis by a top U.S. administration official.
As Andrew Bacevich tells us in the latest issue of the Atlantic, there's now a vigorous debate going on in the military about the nature of the "next" American wars and how to prepare for them. However, while military officers argue, that "next war" may already be creeping up on us.
RIGHTS-PAKISTAN: Live Burial of Women - Activists Demand Action
By Zofeen Ebrahim | IPSNews.net
Prominent civil rights activists are demanding that the government act against those responsible for the burial alive of five women in Balochistan, in July, that politicians from the province have defended as an age-old custom.
On Jul. 14, in the remote village of Babakot, 80 km from Usta Mohammad town in Jafferabad district, three teenage girls and two older women were buried alive, allegedly on the orders of Abdul Sattar Umrani, brother of Sadiq Umrani, a provincial minister belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).