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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les missiles américains frappent le Pakistan

by Dominique Bari

U.S. Missiles Strike Pakistan

Translated Monday 27 October 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

Islamabad. Parliament has just voted for a foreign policy not tied to Washington. These strikes appear to be a shot across the bow.

Yesterday morning a missile, probably American, struck a Koranic school in a village in northern Waziristan, one of the seven Pakistani tribal zones on the Afghan border, killing at least 11 people. According to witnesses, all of the victims are members of local tribes. It seems that the school, set up by Jalaluddine Haqqani, a very powerful Taliban leader close to Ossama Bin Laden, was indeed targeted. The school had been set up in the 1980s, in the middle of the jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Washington’s former allies have become its enemies today, and according to the U.S. general staff the madrasah, which housed “foreign and local students,” is only considered as a sanctuary for terrorists. For the U.S. strategists, this is sufficient reason to violate Pakistani airspace and soil. This is not the first time that this village has been a target. Last September, an attack on the same village cost the lives of over 20.

A costly alliance.

Over the last few months, the United States has intensified its strikes on the Pakistani tribal zones while accusing Islamabad of not doing enough in the “war on terrorism.” On Thursday, a U.S. government official visiting Kabul repeated that Islamabad must eliminate the Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. “Pakistan needs to and is attacking insurgents in its northern areas. Sanctuaries for Afghan Taliban in Pakistan complicate our security operations in Afghanistan,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Patrick Moon stated. Since August the Pakistani government, subject to great U.S. pressure, has been conducting an offensive against the Talibans and combatants linked to Al Qaeda in the Bajaur district, in the far northern part of the tribal zones, and it has already paid a high price for its alliance with the United States. Since July 2007, a wave of bombings claimed by or attributed to Islamist groups has caused over 1300 deaths across the country.

Dialoguing with the insurgents.

But Thursday’s U.S. strikes also have a meaning. They came a few hours after the Pakistani parliament adopted a resolution to change its strategy in the struggle against terrorism. The members of parliament voted in favor of an independent foreign policy and thus demonstrated their desire to put an end to U.S. interventions on Pakistani soil. They stated that a dialogue with the insurgents “must be the top priority and the principal instrument for a solution to the conflict.” Pakistan, a country of 168 million inhabitants, is on the brink of implosion and is close to bankruptcy. According to an International Monetary Fund report published on Monday, current foreign currency reserves can cover the country’s needs only for the next six weeks. Pakistan’s new civilian government has admitted that emergency measures are needed.

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