Friday, October 08, 2010

US threatens wider war in Pakistan

Bill Van Auken,, 6 October 2010

The week-old standoff between Washington and Islamabad over US military attacks inside Pakistan and the blocking of a vital NATO supply line in retaliation underscores the growing threat that the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan is spiralling out of control.

A dramatic escalation of US attacks on Pakistan set the stage for the sharp deterioration in relations over the past week. September saw 22 missile strikes by CIA drones against Pakistani targets, a record number since the attacks began.

The Pakistani government and intelligence services have tolerated and collaborated in the drone attacks, but the US military carried out a qualitative escalation of the assault on Pakistan last week, staging a series of cross-border raids by US helicopter gunships based inside Afghanistan.

While the first of these raids claimed the lives of scores of Pakistanis described by Washington as “militants”—and by residents of the area as local tribesmen—the last killed three members of the Pakistani military’s Frontier Corps and blew to pieces a border post.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, defended this attack as an act of “self defense.” It was nothing of the sort. The US military sent its attack helicopters across the border hunting for targets. If there was any act of self defense, it was by the Frontier Corpsmen, who apparently fired shots to warn the helicopter that it had crossed the border in violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

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