September 12, 2008
The Guardian

Bush Secret Order Sends U.S. Into Pakistan

by Simon Tisdall

A secret order issued by George Bush giving US special forces carte blanche to mount counter-terrorist operations inside Pakistani territory raised fears last night that escalating conflict was spreading from Afghanistan to Pakistan and could ignite a region-wide war.

The unprecedented executive order, signed by Bush in July after an intense internal administration debate, comes amid western concern that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and its al-Qaida backers based in "safe havens" in western Pakistan's tribal belt is being lost.

Following Bush's decision, US navy Seals commandos, backed by attack helicopters, launched a ground raid into Pakistan last week which the US claimed killed about two dozen insurgents. Pakistani officials condemned the raid as illegal and said most of the dead were civilians. US and Nato commanders are anxious to halt infiltration across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border of insurgents and weapons blamed for casualties among coalition troops. The killing of a US soldier in eastern Afghanistan yesterday brought American losses in 2008 to 112, the deadliest year since the 2001 intervention. The move is regarded as unprecedented in terms of sending troops into a friendly, allied country.

But another American objective is the capture of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader held responsible for organising the 9/11 attacks. He and his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are thought to be hiding in the tribal areas of north and south Waziristan.

Bush's decision to extend the war into Pakistan, and his apparent hope of British backing, formed the background to a video conference call with Gordon Brown yesterday. "What's happening on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan is something where we need to develop a new strategy," Brown said before talking to Bush.

Brown said he would discuss the border issue with Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, who visits Britain next week. . . .


Saeed Shah, "Outcry as Pakistan's, U.S. Backed 'Mr 10%' Prepares for Power," Guardian, September 6, 2008

[At least 20 people were killed in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday after U.S. and Afghan troops crossed from Afghanistan to pursue Taliban insurgents in an early morning attack that marked the first known instance in which U.S. forces conducted an operation on Pakistani soil since the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began--Candace Rondeaux, "U.S., Afghan Troops Kill 20 in Pakistan," Washington Post, September 3, 2008]

[Islamabad was stunned by President George W Bush's speech at the US National Defense University on Tuesday in which he named Pakistan as one of the major battlegrounds in the fight against terrorism and that the US has stepped up raids into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan to attack militants.Syed Saleem Shahzad, "Dissension in Pakistan's ranks," Washington Post, September 13, 2008]

Raymond Whitaker, "Pakistan fury at US cross-border attacks: Raids by US forces based in neighbouring Afghanistan risk undermining Islamabad's new civilian government," Independent, September 14, 2008

[90% of Pakistanis oppose the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, which they, like most Europeans, see as a modern colonial war to secure U.S. domination of Central Asia's energy.--Eric Margolis, "Pakistan's new president is a clone of Musharraf," Edmonton Sun, September 14, 2008]

Howard LaFranchi, "Raids into Pakistan: What U.S. authority?," Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 2008

Firing by Pakistani troops forced U.S. military helicopters to turn back to Afghanistan after they crossed into Pakistani territory--"Pakistani troops fire on US helicopters," Financial Times, September 15, 2008

A controversial new US tactic to mount counter-terrorist operations inside Pakistan has met with fresh hostility, it emerged yesterday, as Pakistani tribesmen representing half a million people vowed to switch sides and join the Taliban if Washington does not stop cross-border attacks by its forces from Afghanistan.--Saeed Shah, " Pakistani tribal chiefs threaten to join Taliban," Guardian, September 15, 2008

Isambard Wilkinson, "Taliban opens new front in Pakistan," Telegraph, September 19, 2008

[A massive suicide truck bomb gutted the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital Saturday, killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 250. Dozens more were feared dead inside the building that was still burning hours after the attack.--Stephen Graham and Nahal Toosi, " Suicide bomb at Pakistan Marriott hotel kills 40," Associated Press, September 20, 2008]

[Well placed sources said that Marriott Hotel is usual hotel choice of the US officials and it seems that militants tipped off that certain high level US intelligence officers were currently staying at the hotel.--"Senior CIA officers were target of Islamabad blast," ANI, September 20, 2008]

[Both the In-gate and the Out-gate of the hotel were closed while almost a dozen well-built US Marines in their usual fatigues were unloading the steel boxes from the truck. No one, including the hotel security men, was either allowed to go near the truck or touch the steel boxes, which were being shifted inside the hotel but without passing through the scanners.--Ansar Abbasi, "Was it an attack on US Marines?," CNN, September 22, 2008]

[Pakistan's president, prime minister and other Cabinet members were supposed to have been at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad when a massive truck bomb detonated outside, killing 57 and injuring 266--"Dinner plans save Pakistan's rulers from hotel bomb attack," CNN, September 22, 2008]

[If Pakistan is the most dangerous country on earth, a phrase no less true for being a commonplace, its presidency is one of the world's least enviable posts.--Roger Cohen, "The Most Dangerous Job on Earth," New York Times, September 29, 2008]

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