One, in the month of June, for the first time ever, there were more coalition military fatalities in Afghanistan than in Iraq. Two, on July 7, President George Bush told the US News and World Report (http://www.usnews.com) that the “biggest challenge for the next president of the United States would be Pakistan and not Iraq or even Afghanistan.”
Three, Captain Patrick Hall, Commanding Officer of USS Abraham Lincoln, has new orders. This Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been ordered out of the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Sea. The Abraham Lincoln Strike Group has USS Abraham Lincoln as the nucleus of the carrier battle group which include the following: a Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser that carries Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles; an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer; a Spruance-class destroyer for anti-submarine warfare; an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate; a Los Angeles-class submarine, a Sacramento-class fast combat support ship and replenishment ships.
Abraham Lincoln has enough electricity generating capability to power 100,000 homes. Abraham Lincoln has three strike fighter squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets, a marine fighter attack squadron, an electronic attack squadron of EA-6B Prowlers, a squadron of S-3B Vikings, an early warning squadron of E-2C Hawkeyes and one helicopter antisubmarine squadron of SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawks.
Four, on July 10, General David Petraeus, the commanding general Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), was confirmed by the United States Senate as commander, United States Central Command (CENTCOM is a “theatre-level Unified Combatant Command” whose area of responsibility include Pakistan and Afghanistan).
Five, on May 22, General David Petraeus endorsed a US intelligence “assessment that the next 9/11-type attack on the US soil would come from Al Qaeda bases in Pakistan…”
Six, on April 12, during an interview with ABC News, President George Bush said that “Pakistan, and not Afghanistan or Iraq, is now the most likely place where a plot could be hatched to carry out any 9/11-type attack in the US”
Seven, Robert Mueller, director of the Untied States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in prepared remarks, told the Council on Foreign Relations (http://www.cfr.org), that “Al Qaeda has found new sanctuaries in the ungoverned spaces, tribal areas, and frontier provinces of Pakistan. As a result, Al Qaeda is regenerating its capability to attack.”
Eight, on April 6, US Senate Democrats sent a letter to President George Bush “urging him to shift anti-terror efforts from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The letter said the “White House has committed too much of US resources to Iraq while neglecting ‘terror-havens’ of Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The letter also asserted that “While violence and the drug trade have surged in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s security remains fragile, we are distracted by an endless civil war in Iraq.”
Nine, on July 5, Michael Chertoff, the chief of America’s Homeland Security, said, “Al Qaeda is regrouping in the border areas of Pakistan ” and that he fears that “Al Qaeda and other militant organizations could resume their activities after turning the Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan into their centre.”
Ten, on July 10, the New York Times, quoting American military and intelligence officials, wrote: “There has been an increase in recent months in the number of foreign fighters who have travelled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to join with militants there. The flow may reflect a change that is making Pakistan, not Iraq, the preferred destination for some Sunni extremists from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia who are seeking to take up arms against the west.”
General Petraeus has defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq, physically and ideologically. On July 11, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told BBC, “Pakistan was not doing enough to stop militants from crossing over into Afghanistan.” What is Battlefield Band’s next destination?
PS: Pakistan is on fire. The chief fireman is in Dubai. The fire platoon chief is in London. All other fire lieutenants are either in Kuala Lumpur, New York or just up in the sky floating around at state expense. When was the last time Sonia Gandhi invited her party to Dubai?
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The News, 13/7/2008