Pakistan fires on U.S. helicopters
Sunday's incident inflames debate over whether Pakistan's new president can develop an effective counterinsurgency strategy.
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Zardari's tightrope was highlighted on Saturday night when a massive explosion in the capital ripped apart the Marriott Hotel, killing 53 people and leaving more than 200 wounded. The attack "is being seen as a warning from Islamist militants over the Pakistani government's cooperation with the United States," The Christian Science Monitor reported on Sunday.Skip to next paragraph
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Zardari is due to meet President Bush in Washington on Tuesday, their first face to face meeting.
Observers say Zardari must rethink Pakistan's counterinsurgency strategy, according to Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan:
Since Aug 6, Pakistan has been fighting militants in Bajaur. Yet virtually no one in the country is aware of who we are fighting and why. Worse yet, it's not clear who is responsible for the operation: the political government, the military or both? Is it any surprise that the people are confused and split when they do not know who we are fighting, why we are fighting and even who 'we' is?
A long-delayed plan to send dozens of U.S. military advisors to Pakistan to train its army in counterinsurgency could begin in a matter of weeks under a new agreement on a training base, according to the top U.S. military officer.
Washington for months has urged the Pakistani military to accept the training team. Pakistan has resisted, asking for additional weaponry and equipment some U.S. officials believe is best suited for its standoff with regional rival India.
But Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the primary stumbling block had been the fact that Pakistan could not build the training site, near the western town of Peshawar, quickly enough. The two sides have agreed to use an alternative base north of the capital.
Some Pakistani observers are worried, cautions an editorial in The Nation, another English-language newspaper in Pakistan.
One hopes that Islamabad would make sure that the advisors concern themselves strictly with the training work and refrain from indulging in any activity harmful to our interests. ...
The US must realise that, since the purpose of the two countries is to eliminate the scourge of extremism and terrorism, creating difficulties for an ally whose role is crucial might even frustrate the desired outcome.