GENERAL PETRAEUS: “Next Two Weeks Critical to Pakistan’s Survival”
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, has told U.S. officials the next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistani government will survive, FOX News has learned. “The Pakistanis have run out of excuses” and are “finally getting serious” about combating the threat from Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists operating out of Northwest Pakistan, the general added.
But Petraeus also said wearily that “we’ve heard it all before” from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States’ next course of action, which is presently set on propping up the Pakistani government and military with counterinsurgency training and foreign aid. The see-saw nature of the battles Wednesday demonstrated to U.S. officials that, as one put it to FOX News, “even with intent and superior technology, the capability may not be there” for the Pakistani army to defeat the extremists. FOX NEWS
TALIBAN Spokesman blames American Women
Britain’s Channel 4 Newsaired a video report on Thursday night showing Taliban forces on the streets of the strategically important Pakistani town of Buner, just 70 miles from the country’s capital, Islamabad. A near total lack of resistance from Pakistan’s military has allowed just “400 to 500 insurgents,” to seize control of the area. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban,” but the spokesman, Haji Muslim Khan, said that Taliban anger was partly caused by the presence of female American soldiers in the region. Mr. Khan said that Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, “should think about Western white women who take up arms and come from 20,000 miles away to fight against us here. NY TIMES NEWS BLOG
U.S. faces limited options in Pakistan
As Taliban forces edged to within 60 miles of Islamabad late last month, the Obama administration urgently asked for new intelligence assessments of whether Pakistan’s government would survive. In briefings last week, senior officials said, President Obama and his National Security Council were told that neither a Taliban takeover nor a military coup was imminent and that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal was safe.
Beyond the immediate future, however, the intelligence was far from reassuring. Security was deteriorating rapidly, particularly in the mountains along the Afghan border that harbor al-Qaeda and the Taliban, intelligence chiefs reported, and there were signs that those groups were working with indigenous extremists in Pakistan’s populous Punjabi heartland.
The Pakistani government was mired in political bickering. The army, still fixated on its historical adversary India, remained ill-equipped and unwilling to throw its full weight into the counterinsurgency fight. MSNBC
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