by Syed Saleem Shahzad
ISLAMABAD - The ambitious US$1 billion plan of the United States to expand
its presence in Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad underscores
Washington's resolve to consolidate its presence in the region, particularly
in pursuit of the endgame in the "war on terror". . . .
The fortress-like embassy will eventually accommodate close to 1,000
additional personnel being sent to Islamabad as part of the US
administration's decision to significantly raise its profile in the country.
The new staffers will augment the current 750-strong American contingent
already based in Pakistan; this against a sanctioned strength of 350.
"What appears to be more alarming is that this staff surge will include 350
[US] marines. Additionally, the Americans are pressuring Islamabad to allow
the import of hundreds of Dyncorp armored personnel carriers," reported
Pakistan's largest English-language daily Dawn.
. . . since the last few months of 2008, the Americans have quietly been
working on extending their physical footprint in the country.
During this period, about 300 American officials landed at Tarbella, the
brigade headquarters of Pakistan's Special Operation Task Force
approximately 20 kilometers from Islamabad. They were officially designated
as a "training advisory group", according to documents seen by Asia Times
Investigations by Asia Times Online indicate that this was no simple
training program. According to sources directly handling the project, the US
bought a huge plot of land at Tarbella, several square kilometers. Twenty
large containers were then sent there. They were handled by the Americans,
who did not allow any Pakistani officials to inspect them. Given the size of
the containers, sources familiar with such shipments believe they carried
special arms and ammunition and even possibly tanks and armored vehicles -
and certainly nothing to do with any training program.
These developments at Tarbella and now the bigger facility in the heart of
Islamabad are reminiscent of American policy in the Middle East, where the
Jordanian capital of Amman was turned into a hub for the US's handling of
Iraq, Syria and Palestine. . . .
"Pakistan's Attack on Swat: Fallout From The
Energy Wars," The Wisdom Fund, May 7, 2009
"Afghan Leaders Demand Timetable for U.S.
Withdrawal," The Wisdom Fund, May 21, 2009
"Energy Wars: The Destabilization of
Baluchistan," The Wisdom Fund, July 12, 2009
Kirsty Walker, "Afghan War Could Last
'For Decades'," Daily Mail, August 3, 2009
[ . . . 67 per cent say they oppose US military operations on Pakistani
soil.--Owen Fay, "US 'biggest' threat, say Pakistanis," aljazeera.net, August 9,