The next celebrity in Pakistan may very well be Musharraf. Musharraf is obviously getting even more involved with the US and this could lead to a real danger of his being terminated either by operatives in the Pakistani intelligence service or the armed forces even if the Islamic radicals are unable to reach him directly.
One can expect turmoil even something akin to civil war in Pakistan in the near future.
US to expand mily presence in Pakistan
EARLY next year, US special forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counter-terrorism units, according to American defence officials involved with the planning, reports Washington Post.
These Pakistan-centric operations will mark a shift for the US military and for US-Pakistan relations. In the aftermath of Sept 11, the US used Pakistani bases to stage movements into Afghanistan. Yet once the US deposed the Taliban government and established its main operating base at Bagram, north of Kabul, US forces left Pakistan almost entirely. Since then, Pakistan has restricted US involvement in cross-border military operations as well as paramilitary operations on its soil.
But the Pentagon has been frustrated by the inability of Pakistani forces to control the borders or the frontier area. And Pakistan’s political instability has heightened US concern about extremists there.
According to Pentagon sources, reaching a different agreement with Pakistan became a priority for the new head of the US Special Operations Command, Adm Eric T Olson.
Olson visited Pakistan in August, November and again this month, meeting with President Pervez Musharraf, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Tariq Majid and Lt Gen Muhammad Masood Aslam, commander of the military and paramilitary troops in northwest Pakistan. Olson also visited the headquarters of the Frontier Corps, a separate paramilitary force recruited from Pakistan’s border tribes.
Now, a new agreement, reported when it was still being negotiated last month, has been finalised. And the first US personnel could be on the ground in Pakistan by early in the new year, according to Pentagon sources.
US Central Command Commander Adm William Fallon alluded to the agreement and spoke approvingly of Pakistan’s recent counter-terrorism efforts in a recent interview.
“What we’ve seen in the last several months is more of a willingness to use their regular army units,” along the Afghan border, Fallon said. “And this is where, I think, we can help a lot from the US in providing the kind of training, assistance and mentoring based on our experience with insurgencies recently and with the terrorist problem in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think we share a lot with them, and we’ll look forward to doing that.”