Wednesday, September 17, 2008
By STEPHEN GRAHAM
The new firing orders were disclosed by Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.
Abbas said Pakistani field commanders have previously been tolerant about international forces crossing a short way into Pakistan because of the ill-defined and contested nature of the mountainous frontier.
"But after the (Sept. 3) incident, the orders are clear," Abbas said. "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."
The statement was the strongest since Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's army chief, raised eyebrows last week by vowing to defend Pakistani territory "at all cost." Abbas would not say whether the orders were discussed in advance with U.S. officials.
So it's confirmed Kiyani meant what he said a few days ago. Other developments are the Kuki Khel Tribal Leaders of Khyber Agency made a televised announcement yesterday threatening to block Nato Convoys to Torkham moving through their territory, saying categorically "This is one weapon we have". In South and North Waziristan, concrete bunkers are being built at a frantic pace by the tribal militants who have asked for mechanical assistance from the Army.
Military action against the Bajaur and Swat militants continues simultaneously. It appears Army has decided to ally with the 'Good' Taliban of Waziristan against incursions from across the border, while fighting the 'Bad' ones in Bajaur and Swat.
In the meantime, Zardari tries to convince Gordon Brown to put in a good word on Pakistan's behalf with Bush. He knows in case of a conflagration with US forces at the border, his political Government will be unlikely to survive!
It seems to me the Army has decided to act on its own re Nato/Afghanistan, having seen the Government bumbling in the dark. This became evident when Kiyani issued his now famous statement of defending borders at all cost, and there was a chorus in agreement from the Prime Minister's house only the following day.
Usually such matters are decided and policy statements issued by the Foreign Office and/or the Head of State, and not the Military Chief.
Posted by Zeemax at 11:51 AM