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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’administration Bush frappe au Pakistan

by Dominique Bari

The Bush Administration Strikes Pakistan

Translated Thursday 18 September 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

Bombings. New U.S. raids on Pakistani villages kill 14 civilians and further destabilize the country.

A new U.S. strike killed another 14 civilians yesterday. This time, a missile was fired from Afghanistan against the village of Tol Khel on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main city in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region. The attack came on the heels of a threat made by the United States on the previous day to increase its military options in the tribal zones along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan to counter what they consider to be Pakistani “passiveness.” Islamabad has sworn to oppose these operations “at any price” as the tone hardens between the two capitals, which are “allies” in the fight against terrorism, following revelations in the New York Times confirming persistent rumors that, since last July, President Bush has secretly authorized U.S. special forces to operate in Pakistan, despite the opposition of the country’s military establishment.

At that time, the new Pakistani government was attempting to negotiate an agreement with the rebel Pashtoon tribes, which were accused of harboring Afghan Taliban fighters and Al Qaeda militiamen on their soil. Washington was hostile to the agreement and obtained a promise from Islambad to send the Pakistani army into the tribal zones. Those military operations against Islamic militants have already killed over 600 and resulted in over 260,000 people being displaced, according to the Red Cross.

The offensive has accelerated murderous attacks by religious extremists, like the one on Thursday which killed 20 people in a mosque in Northern Pakistan. The situation results from the quagmire in which the U.S. coalition and its NATO allies are bogged down in Afghanistan. Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, recognized these facts. “The United States is wasting its time in the Afghan War, and victory cannot be won solely through simple military means” he declared on Wednesday to the House Armed Services Committee. In Mullen’s opinion, the Talibans have become “bolder” and the general attributed the escalation of the conflict to “the poor Afghan economy,” to drug trafficking and to “significant political uncertainty in Pakistan.” His testimony followed an announcement by President Bush that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq would be reduced and that 4,500 additional soldiers would be deployed in Afghanistan.

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