Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Open Fire"

Like me, you may be a little surprised to read that Pakistan's military is threatening to open fire on any American forces who cross into Pakistan looking to engage Taliban or Al Qaeda militants:

army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press that after U.S. helicopters ferried troops into a militant stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal region, the military told field commanders to prevent any similar raids.

"The orders are clear," Abbas said in an interview. "In case it happens again in this form, that there is a very significant detection, which is very definite, no ambiguity, across the border, on ground or in the air: open fire."

Though the U.S. military has several time in the past launched missile attacks into Pakistan targeting militants, they appeared to escalate operations with a ground attack on September 3 that was condemned by the Pakistani government. The Pakistani military already claims to have repulsed a raid by American troops this morning by firing warning shots, a report the U.S. military denies. 

UPDATE: I missed this NYT Magazine piece by Dexter Filkins (via Danger Room) on the wild and wooly badlands of western Pakistan. The most important lessons from this article? Pakistan cannot or will not deal with the militants, Pakistan is not really our ally in the war on terror and their interests are not the same as ours, but at the same time we simply cannot allow such a threat to our national security to go unaddressed. I do not envy whoever is the next President, who will be forced to deal with the gravest national security threat we face. 

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