War on Terror or War on Each other?
Dawn tells an unedifying little story of a crisis that was not covered by most US corporate media.
So, first the Afghan security services broke up what they said was a plot by three armed Pakistanis to assassinate Zalmay Khalilzad, who had been the US ambassador to Afghanistan and is now in Baghdad as the new envoy to Iraq.
Pakistani government officials were absolutely furious that the Afghans had implicated their nationals. Anwar Iqbal says that they demanded that Afghanistan produce proof “or stop making false claims.”
So now the Afghans are angry, and they charge that Pakistan has been supporting insurgents in the southern Pushtun areas. The spokesman for President Karzai, Javed Ludin, said that Pakistan was not doing enought to stop the infiltration into Afghanistan of militants like the one who carried out a suicide bombing in a mosque at Qandahar recently.
Iqbal writes, ‘ Pakistani foreign office spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani said he was ‘surprised’ by Mr Ludin’s comments and reminded him that President Karzai also had acknowledged Islamabad’s contribution to the fight against terrorism. ‘
So things were getting pretty tense over the past couple of days, to the point where President Bush had to intervene directly. On Tuesday he called up Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president. Musharraf then called Karzai, and they appear to have patched up the dispute for the moment.
The Pakistani government has been sensitive to any charge that al-Qaeda operates from its territory, and Pakistani officials typically charge that Bin Laden is in eastern Afghanistan somewhere. Nerves in Islamabad will have been frayed by CIA director Porter Goss’s recent comments saying that he had a good idea of where Bin Laden was, but was impeded in getting him by diplomatic considerations. These remarks were widely interpreted as suggesting that he a) thought Bin Laden was somewhere in Pakistan and b) Gen. Musharraf’s hold on power was too weak to allow the US to push hard for nabbing the al-Qaeda leader.
Everyone is afraid of pushing Pakistan too hard on the Bin Laden issue, lest radical Muslim junior officers or military intelligence types be provoked to make a coup, giving the world a radical Islamist state with an atomic bomb.
But the fact is that no one knows exactly where Bin Laden and Zawahiri are, or they would have been apprehended. They are rumored to be in the rugged Waziristan tribal area. But other high al-Qaeda officials have been captured in urban mansions, so that I’m not so sure. Bin Laden’s videotape released before the US election demonstrates that he had seen Fahrenheit 9/11, which would be hard to do in a cave. Moreover, Bin Laden did have bases in Afghanistan for 20 years, and that he is in Paktika or someplace can’t be ruled out.
By the way, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s latest tape, issued last week, got amazingly little play. Marc Lynch did an interesting analysis of how al-Jazeera handled the broadcasting of it.
I guess in weird Bushworld, if you want to be ignored and left alone, the best approach is to kill 3000 Americans and blow up the Pentagon.