US Wants Permission To
Bomb Pakistan's Tribal Areas

By Indo-Asian News Service

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 said.
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 3.
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."
Copyright © 2001 IANS India Private Limited. All rights Reserved.



This Site Served by TheHostPros