- ISLAMABAD (IANS) -- The U.S.
has sought "permission" of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf
to bomb the tribal areas of Waziristan and Northern Areas, where 10,000
Al Qaida terrorists are reported to have taken sanctuary, well informed
sources have said.
- U.S. officials, who sounded Musharraf, were reported
to have specifically identified the Mahsoud and Khattak tribes as those
providing sanctuary to the Al Qaida men who had fled Afghanistan to escape
the manhunt by U.S. troops.
- The sources said the Pakistani military establishment
was concerned about the U.S. move, because it felt the move could lead
to a revolt by some 100,000 Mahsoud and Khattak soldiers in the army.
- Lt. General (Retd.) Ali Quli Khan Khattak, who was overlooked
for the army chief's post by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in favour
of Musharraf, had conveyed the concerns of the Khattak and Mehsoud tribes
to Gen. Mohammed Aziz, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the sources
- He also warned about the possibility of a revolt by the
tribespersons in the army should the government accede to the U.S. request.
- While senior military officials would not comment on
the exact number of Al Qaida activists in Pakistan, they maintained that
the figure quoted by U.S. officials was on the "higher side."
- The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the six-party alliance
of Islamic radicals, held nation-wide protests in early January against
Musharraf's decision to go along with the U.S. in Afghanistan, the joint
military operations in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and U.S.
plans to attack Iraq.
- The protest by the MMA, which emerged as a major force
in the country's political scene after the October elections and rules
the volatile NWFP, followed exchange of fire between Pakistani and U.S.
troops close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on December 29 and January
- Addressing a protest rally in Islamabad, Maulana Samiul
Haq, a factional leader of the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), warned that
there would be an "open war here" if the U.S. attacked Iraq and
that "no American will be safe."
- In Karachi JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called for
withdrawal of support to the U.S. if it attacked Iraq while Jamaat-e-Islami
chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed, addressing a rally in Peshawar, urged a change
in Pakistan's foreign policy "which is in favour of the U.S. and against
Muslims and does not reflect the aspirations of the nation."
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