You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Russian bid to replace Pakistan as supply route: War in Afghanistan

At the Nato summit, which begins in Bucharest on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to offer an alternative route for supplying US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.

The proposal, if accepted, will change the course of the war in Afghanistan and will also have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan as Nato’s 43,000 troops in Afghanistan rely heavily on supplies transported via Pakistan.

Diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Russian and Nato diplomats have already held a series of “productive and successful” talks on a plan that would allow non-military material – such as clothing, food and petrol – to cross Russia by land.

The plan, however, could later be expanded to include ammunition and light weapons as well, the sources said.
While America’s European allies have shown great interest in the proposal, the Americans are still reluctant as they do not want to bring Russia back to a region from where it was forcibly ousted in 1989, after battling Afghan freedom fighters (now Al Qaeda and Taliban militants) for almost 10 years.

Despite Washington’s reluctance, the Nato has held intensive talks with Russian officials on the precise routes to be used and hopes to reach agreement at this week’s summit in Bucharest.
Western diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Nato sees the proposed route as a good alternative for supplies going through Pakistan which faces political uncertainty and may not be a reliable route for long.
But there are others in Washington who warn that an attempt to disassociate Pakistan from any plan for Afghanistan may have dangerous consequences.

In an article published on the eve of the Nato summit, Karl F. Inderfurth, a former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, describes Pakistan as “one country that can make or break (Nato’s) mission” in Afghanistan.

He notes that Nato’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has promised to visit Islamabad as soon as the new Pakistan government is in place.

“After Bucharest there is no better destination to reinforce Nato’s Afghan mission,” says Mr Inderfurth while backing the proposed visit.

Full story on DAWN - Top Stories; April 02, 2008
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Liberal Assembly of NWFP condemns CIA Director’s comments on Pak tribal areas

The NWFP Assembly has taken a strong note of CIA Director Michael Hayden’s recent statement terming Pakistan’s tribal areas as direct threat to US. The Assembly strongly condemned Hayden’s comments in a unanimous resolution passed by it.

The resolution also said that all the matters should be resolved through holding meaningful talks.

Raising a point of order, PML-N provincial chief Pir Sabir Shah diverted the attention of the House towards the statement issued by the CIA chief, and termed it as direct threat to the country as well as interference and attack on sovereignty of their country.

He said that aggressions from any foreign country would not be tolerated. “My countrymen had witnessed suicide attacks, bomb blasts and destruction only because of the dictatorial policies of the US in this region,” The Nation quoted him as saying.

Provincial ex-CM Akram Khan Durrani seconded the resolution and expressed the same feelings, saying that a joint resolution should be tabled to condemn the CIA chief’s statement unanimously.

Later, the parliamentary leaders of various Parties drafted the resolution and allowed the ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain to move it, and was unanimously passed through which they demanded of the Federal Government to take serious note of the statement issued by the CIA chief immediately as they considered it as an interference in the affairs of an independent country. (ANI)

NWFP Assembly condemns CIA Director’s comments on Pak tribal areas | Top News

Please note that religious parties do not have much representation in the assembly... so US n mush cannot say that these are views of extremists... also see following

Provoked by the recent statements of the CIA director Michael Hayden, the NWFP Assembly promptly adopted a unanimous resolution Tuesday condemning US official’s utterances and asked the PPP-led federal government to take steps to resolve all issues through negotiations.

All parties represented in the assembly ranging from the nationalist ANP to the secular PPP and centrist PML-N, rightist PML-Q to the Islamic JUI-F, backed the resolution. ANP’s Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who will take oath as education minister today, moved the jointly drafted resolution on behalf of all members of the House.
PPP-S’s Israrullah Gandapur did not agree with the speaker who suggested the mover to leave the issue for another day as no other business could be made except election of the chief minister. He said they could not remain silent spectators like those of school’s children on such important and sensitive issues. “We will be doing no service if we also adopt criminal negligence like that of the previous government,” he said and suggested passage of a resolution. He also asked the federal government to summon US ambassador to know as to whether it was the American policy or a statement of one individual.

Full story at The News website
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