Archive for August, 2008

‘With Musharraf, a Scapegoat Leaves the World Stage’

August 20, 2008

Pakistan is without Musharraf for the first time in nine years. German commentators on Tuesday asks whether the fractious coalition government will be any better at dealing with the country’s daunting problems, including a floundering economy and militant Islamists. And will the West be able to help keep the nuclear state stable?

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf after his resignation on Monday.

When Pervez Musharraf finally decided to call it a day on Monday and resigned after nine years in power, much of Pakistan sighed with relief, glad to see the back of a leader many had come to regard as a US puppet and a man desperate to cling on to power at all costs. Now, however, they are left with a fractious coalition government that has to face up to the problems it has until now been able blame on the former general: ongoing Islamist militancy and violence, as well as a floundering economy.

Musharraf announced his resignation to avoid impeachment but there was no indication that he will get immunity from prosecution. On Tuesday Pakistan’s Law Minister Farooq Naek said that there had been “no deal” with Musharraf and that the coalition leaders had yet to make a decision on “accountability.” The smaller of the two coalition parties, led by Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf ousted in a putsch back in 1999, have called for him to be tried for treason. According to the Associated Press, however, reports in the Pakistani media suggest he could leave the country for security reasons.

The government, headed by the party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is meeting on Tuesday to discuss a replacement for Musharraf. The chairman of the Senate, Mohammedmian Soomro, is to be acting president until a new one is elected by parliament within 30 days. Traditionally the president had been a figurehead in Pakistan, although the office had gained much more power under Musharraf.

The coalition is also expected to tackle the issue of whether to reinstate the judges that Musharraf purged last year in a bid to hinder legal challenges to his presidency. Musharraf’s decision to sack the judges and impose emergency rule last year caused his popularity plummet to new lows.

The West is hoping that Pakistan will not be plunged into further political instability now that its key ally Musharraf has left the political stage. The former general’s position had weakened considerably since his rivals won elections in February. US officials have since sought to strengthen relations both with the new Army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, and the new government.

There has been some disappointment in Washington with Pakistan’s efforts to tackle the resurgence of the Taliban in the tribal areas along with border with Afghanistan. It is assumed that the region is providing a safe haven for insurgents launching attacks across the border in Afghanistan and that al-Qaida may also have regrouped there.

The civilian government in Islamabad has opted to negotiate with tribal leaders. In exchange for keeping the Pakistani military out of the areas, tribal leaders have pledged to take on militant Islamists tehmselves. With the power struggle with Musharraf out of the way, some hope the government will soon have greater resources at its disposal to fight Islamic militancy and terrorism.

On Tuesday the German press not only writes Musharraf’s political obituary but also assesses the impact of his resignation on Pakistan and the region. Many call on the West to increase its efforts to help Pakistan find its feet economically so that militant Islamism can be rooted out and warn that the country’s rivalry with India poses real dangers.

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“Musharraf’s participation in the war on terror and the cooperation of the intelligence agency with the United States were, to put it mildly, never popular in the country. Moreover he was only ever half-hearted in his fight against the militant Islamists — sometimes ruthless, sometimes conciliatory. The coalition government is strategically unsure of itself, and seems to want to secure an end to domestic terror through deals — something that the increasingly bold Islamists won’t thank them for but will simply use to increase the areas they control. In light of this situation, the West in general and the US in particular, must do more about Pakistan than before. … It must prevent the nuclear nightmare of Islamists gaining access to atomic weapons.”

“It needs to become clear to the Pakistani leadership that when they take on militant Islamists, they are not just doing the West a favor — they are also helping to develop their own country. The belief that the fall of the Kabul government and the return of the Taliban would be a strategic victory over India is a fantasy from previous centuries. Allowing Islamism to flourish politically, militarily, socially and ideologically cannot be in the interests of most Pakistanis. Their interests lie in achieving economic stability. And the West can do more here too.”

“The West should take the opportunity of Musharraf’s resignation to encourage a policy in Islamabad that combines international dependability with development and democracy — the preconditions for long-term stability.”

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

“The assessment of the American intelligence agencies is that the risk of an Islamist take-over is very low. The US government never saw the promotion of democracy in Pakistan as the main task. Washington depended on the army to keep the country under control. Ashfaq Kayani, the new US-trained head of the army since January, has Musharraf to thank for his career: He first made him head of the ISI intelligence agency and then his successor as the head of the army. He now determines the scope within which the parties and democracy can operate.”

“Nevertheless, with Musharraf going a scapegoat is disappearing from the stage — one whom Afghan President Hamid Karzai and, when required, the Americans, could blame everything on. They could claim that Pakistan and Musharraf in particular were responsible for the instable situation in Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban (more…).”

“Karzai and his backers will soon need a replacement for Musharraf. His resignation does not mean that the Pakistan army will go on the offensive against the Pashtun tribes in the border regions. The problems there, anyway, cannot be solved by military means. They can only be fixed with dialogue and development aid.”

“In addition the Pakistanis — civilians and soldiers — have no interest in a stable Afghanistan, in which its archenemy India is increasing its influence, encouraged by Karzai. Every conflict in this region that Pakistan is involved in has to be seen through the prism of its enmity toward India.”

The conservative Die Welt writes:

“Musharraf had a vision: he wanted to put his country on the path toward the Turkish, secular model and saw himself as the Pakistani Atatürk. … However, the dream of a secular Pakistan is probably dead.”

“He failed because of the country’s poverty, the fatally high birth rate, the boom in the price of natural resources, the divide between the Islamists and the secular part of society, the politicians’ ambition and his inability as president to find a consensus across the board, and to step down at the right time. By the time he took off his uniform, his ‘second skin,’ it was already too late.”

“Pakistan is more important than it seems: a nuclear-armed state, not tied in to arms control, with conflicts on both sides, fragile internally, on the new frontline between the East and the West. Pakistan after Musharraf is the cause for much worry in global politics.”

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:

“The fact that the dictator is finally stepping down presents Pakistan with a unique opportunity. Now the democratic structures can grow in those regions and parts of society that had been left in a vacuum by repeated dictatorships. And it is only in these political vacuums that fanaticism can take hold.”

Business friendly Handelsblatt writes:

“Pakistan is now facing a period of political instability, perhaps even a period of chaos on the streets. It is doubtful if the divided coalition, which was so busy in its efforts to have the president impeached that it forgot about the really urgent problems facing the country, will now be able to find the necessary unity to prevent a power struggle. Pakistan is ill-prepared for life after Musharraf.”

“The fight against the Taliban must be taken as seriously as reviving the economy. It is only if Pakistan’s government and future president apply themselves to solving these problems and manage to fight against corruption and inefficiency, that the country can free itself from the vacuum that is looming and achieve a fresh political start.”

“The West absolutely has to contribute to this. Musharraf’s close ties to the US may not have pleased many people in the country. However, without the Americans’ help the country would have been left helplessly in the grasp of the Islamists. The best thing the US administration could do now is to use its influence to make sure that democracy in Pakistan is not smashed in a power struggle. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal must never be allowed to fall into the hands of extremists.”

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“The developments in Pakistan affect important Western interests. One is the question of what policy the country will pursue with regards to the Taliban, which is launching its war in neighboring Afghanistan from Pakistan. Another is the issue of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, which must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. And then there is the potentially extremely dangerous ongoing conflict with its larger neighbor India, which also has nuclear weapons.”

“After Sept. 11, 2001, Musharraf decided — admittedly under extreme pressure from Washington — to allow the fall of the Taliban, which had been long been backed by his own foreign intelligence agency. Since then Pakistan has been a part of the international alliance against Islamist terrorism. Musharraf also disempowered Abdul Quadeer Kahn (more…), ‘the father of the Islamic nuclear bomb,’ who had been secretly selling nuclear know-how and technology to dubious regimes around the world.”

“These strategic decisions were and remain extremely important to the West. With the dictator’s departure there is now at least a theoretical chance that the democratic forces in the country will come to an arrangement with the army, which will put a stop to the rise of the Islamists in the border regions. A return to the times when the army was openly in cahoots with the Islamists would be disastrous.”

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“After Musharraf’s departure the West can now prove that it wants to bring lasting peace to the region. The governments in Berlin, London, Paris and Washington, however, will have to try to encourage development in a country in which the majority of people try to live on less than a dollar a day and parents send their children to radical Koran schools because they at least provide for their accommodation and care. ”

“More commitment on the part of the West would not just be a humanitarian gesture but also in its own interests. A half-way stable Afghanistan would only be possible if its neighbor Pakistan receives the same kind of attention. In the face of the desolate situation, this is a task the will take decades, not just a few years.”

“The new Western strategy must start with the choice of words: They should make it clear to Pakistanis that their hardships have been noticed and that the West is fully aware that only a minority of the 160 million people support the militants. That may seem like just a small step but it is necessary as there is great anger in Pakistan at being used and then neglected by the West. Rhetoric, however, is not enough. In the future, economic support should at the very least match the military support.”

— Siobhán Dowling, 1:20 p.m. CET


Taliban Escalate Afghan Fighting

August 20, 2008

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents mounted their most serious attacks in six years of fighting in Afghanistan over the last two days, including a coordinated assault by at least 10 suicide bombers against one of the largest American military bases in the country, and another by about 100 insurgents who killed 10 elite French paratroopers.

The New York Times: Insurgents carried out attacks in Sarobi and Camp Salerno.

The attack on the French, in a district near Kabul, added to the sense of siege around the capital and was the deadliest single loss for foreign troops in a ground battle since the United States-led invasion chased the Taliban from power in 2001.

Taken together, the attacks were part of a sharp escalation in fighting as insurgents have seized a window of opportunity to press their campaign this summer — taking advantage of a wavering NATO commitment, an outgoing American administration, a flailing Afghan government and a Pakistani government in deep disarray that has given the militants freer rein across the border.

As a result, this year is on pace to be the deadliest in the Afghan war so far, as the insurgent attacks show rising zeal and sophistication. The insurgents are employing not only a growing number of suicide and roadside bombs, but are also waging increasingly well-organized and complex operations using multiple attackers with different types of weapons, NATO officials say.

NATO and American military officials place blame for much of the increased insurgent activity on the greater freedom of movement the militants have in Pakistan’s tribal areas on the Afghan border. The turmoil in the Pakistani government, with the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, has added to the sense of a vacuum of authority there.

But at least as important, the officials say, is the fact that Pakistan’s military has agreed to a series of peace deals with the militants under which it stopped large-scale operations in the tribal areas in February, allowing the insurgents greater freedom to train, recruit and carry out attacks into Afghanistan.

More foreign fighters are entering Afghanistan this summer than in previous years, NATO officials say, an indication that Al Qaeda and allied groups have been able to gather more foreigners in their tribal redoubts.

The push by the insurgents has taken a rising toll. Before the attack on Monday, 173 foreign soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan this year, including 99 Americans. In all of 2007, 232 foreign troops were killed, the highest number since the war began in 2001.

The attack with multiple suicide bombers, which struck Camp Salerno in the eastern province of Khost, wounded three American soldiers and six members of the Afghan Special Forces, Afghan officials said. It was one of the most complex attacks yet in Afghanistan, and included a backup fighting force that tried to breach defenses to the airport at the base.

The assault followed a suicide car bombing at the outer entrance to the same base on Monday morning, which killed 12 Afghan workers lining up to enter the base, and another attempted bombing that was thwarted later.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, reached by telephone at an unknown location, said the attack was carried out by 15 suicide bombers, each equipped with machine guns and explosives vests, and backed by 30 more militants.

He also claimed that some of the bombers had breached the walls of the base and had killed a number of American soldiers and destroyed equipment and helicopters. This last claim was denied by Gen. Zaher Azimi of the Afghan military.

The insurgents began attacking with rockets and mortars at 11 p.m. Monday, and a group of militants began to move toward the airport side of the base, the Afghan military said. An Afghan commando unit encircled them, killing 13 militants, including 10 who were wearing suicide vests, General Azimi said.

A fierce battle raged through much of the night, until 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Arsala Jamal, the governor of Khost. American helicopter strikes against the militants, who were moving through a cornfield around the base, also struck a house in a village, killing two children and wounding two women and two men, the provincial police chief, Abdul Qayum Baqizoy, said.

The attack on the French also began late Monday and continued into Tuesday, after they were ambushed by an unusually large insurgent force while on a joint reconnaissance mission with the Afghan Army in the district of Sarobi, 30 miles east of Kabul, according to a NATO statement.

The French soldiers, part of an elite paratrooper unit, had only recently taken over from American forces in the area as part of the expanded French deployment in Afghanistan under President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In addition to the 10 French soldiers killed, 21 were wounded, the NATO statement said. It was the deadliest attack on French troops since a 1983 assault in Beirut killed 58 French paratroopers serving in a United Nations force.

The latest casualties bring to 24 the number of French troops killed in Afghanistan since they were first sent there in 2002.

The Taliban have seemingly made it part of their strategy to attack newly arriving forces, as well as those of NATO countries whose commitment to the war has appeared to waver, in an effort to influence public opinion in Europe. NATO countries have been under increasing pressure from the United States to increase their troop commitments to Afghanistan, which many have been hesitant to do.

The Taliban’s surge in attacks also comes at a delicate moment in American political life, as the departing Bush administration will have to hand over control of the war to a new president, whose administration will need time to get up to speed.

But Mr. Sarkozy, who has been a strong supporter of the United States, made it clear that the French would be undeterred.

“In its struggle against terrorism, France has just been hard hit,” Mr. Sarkozy said in a statement. He arrived in Kabul on Wednesday, according to Reuters, a trip he made to reassure French troops that “France is at their side.”

But Mr. Sarkozy said France would not be deterred from its Afghan mission, where 3,000 troops are serving in a NATO force of more than 40,000 soldiers from nearly 40 nations.

“My determination is intact,” he said. “France is committed to pursuing the struggle against terrorism, for democracy and for freedom. This is a just cause; it is an honor for France and for its army to defend it.”

The Sarobi District has been the scene of a growing number of insurgent attacks in recent months, most thought to be instigated by fighters loyal to the renegade mujahedeen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is allied with the Taliban but not formally part of the movement.

Mr. Hekmatyar, who NATO officials say is based in Pakistan, has increased his militant activity in northeast Afghanistan and around Kabul, while the Taliban, foreign fighters and Al Qaeda have accelerated their attacks in the east, southeast and south.

The increase in insurgent activity northeast of Kabul is part of an attempt by the insurgents to encircle the capital and put pressure on the Afghan government and the foreign forces, some NATO and Afghan officials say.

Insurgent activity has also increased sharply in recent months in Logar and Wardak Provinces, south of the capital, sometimes making the main roads impassable.

The deployment of elite French troops to the area was intended to reinforce the Afghan Army and help keep the insurgent threat to the capital at bay. General Azimi, the Afghan military spokesman, said two companies of Afghan Army soldiers were sent in at dawn to assist the French.

In all, about 27 Taliban were believed to have been killed in the clash in the Sarobi District, around Uzbin, he said. Thirteen insurgents were later found dead on the battlefield, including a Pakistani fighter, he said.

Carlotta Gall reported from Bamiyan, and Sangar Rahimi from Kabul, Afghanistan. Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Paris.

Transfusion breakthrough as human blood grown from stem cells

August 20, 2008

Vials of human blood have been grown from embryonic stem cells for the first time during research that promises to provide an almost limitless supply suitable for transfusion into any patient.

The achievement by scientists in the United States could lead to trials of the blood within two years, and ultimately to an alternative to donations that would transform medicine.

If such blood was made from stem cells of the O negative blood type, which is compatible with every blood group but is often in short supply, it could be given safely to anybody who needs a transfusion.

Stem-cell-derived blood would also eliminate the risk of transmitting the pathogens that cause hepatitis, HIV and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) through transfusions.

Scientists behind the advance said that it has huge therapeutic potential and could easily become the first application of embryonic stem-cell research to enter widespread clinical use. “Limitations in the supply of blood can have potentially life-threatening consequences for patients with massive blood loss,” said Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) in Massachusetts, who led the experiments. “Embryonic stem cells represent a new source of cells that can be propagated and expanded indefinitely, providing a potentially inexhaustible source of red blood cells for human therapy. The identification of a stem cell line with O negative blood type would permit the production of compatible ‘universal donor’ blood.”

Blood comes in four groups, A, B, AB and O, and in two rhesus types, positive and negative, and only some of these are compatible with one another. A person with type A, for example, can donate to people with type A or AB, and receive blood of type A or O. Only O negative blood can be given to any patient.

While there is no national shortage of donated blood in Britain, O negative blood sometimes runs low. It is also used widely in military medicine.

The research also has more immediate clinical promise for efforts to turn embryonic stem cells into other types of tissue, to treat conditions such as diabetes and Parkinson’s.

One of the biggest safety hurdles that must be cleared before stem-cell therapies enter clinical trials is the risk of uncontrolled cell growth causing cancer. Red blood cells, however, do not have nuclei that carry the genetic material that goes wrong in cancer, and thus should not present this danger. “This could be one of the biggest breaks for the early clinical application of embryonic stem cells,” Dr Lanza said. “There is still work to be done, but we could certainly be studying these cells clinically within the next year or two.”

While a few red blood cells have been created from embryonic stem cells before, the ACT team is the first to mass-produce them on the scale required for medical use. They also showed that the red cells were capable of carrying oxygen, and that they responded to biological cues in similar fashion to the real thing. About two thirds had no nucleus, which suggests that they are fully fledged adult red blood cells, and the researchers hope to bring this closer to 100 per cent. Details of the research are published in the journal Blood.

Though embryonic stem cells were used in this experiment, it may be possible to create blood from reprogrammed adult cells, also known as induced pluripotent (IPS) cells. These would circumvent some ethical objections to the use of embryonic tissue.

Independent scientists welcomed the work. Professor Alex Medvinsky, a blood stem cell expert at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The problem with relying on donated blood is that there are always shortages. The ability to generate red blood cells in very large numbers would be a very big thing.”

Resurgent Taleban kill 10 French troops and assault US base

August 20, 2008

The Taleban have staged two of their most spectacular operations in Afghanistan, killing ten French troops in a battle just outside Kabul and launching a frontal assault on a big US base near the Pakistani border.

The attacks, which began on Monday and continued yesterday, are the latest in a series of dramatic raids by the militant group, including a prison break in Kandahar and the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, suggesting a tactical shift from multiple skirmishes to bold offensives.

They have also raised fears that the Taleban are expanding their operations in eastern Afghanistan as part of a new strategy to cut off supply routes to Kabul, the capital.

The attack on the French, of whom 21 were also injured, was one of the deadliest on foreign troops in Afghanistan since the start of the US-led war in 2001, which originally ousted the Taleban from Kabul. It was the heaviest loss of life suffered by the French since 1983 and increased pressure on President Sarkozy to withdraw from Afghanistan.

“In its struggle against terrorism, France has just been hit hard,” Mr Sarkozy said, before boarding an aircraft to Afghanistan to show support for his troops.

The French soldiers were on patrol with the Afghan National Army 30 miles (50km) east of Kabul when they were ambushed by about a hundred insurgents, sparking a gunfight that continued into yesterday, according to military officials. France has 2,600 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly as part of the Nato International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), and has lost 24 in action or accidents since sending them there in 2002.

Mr Sarkozy dispatched an extra 700 soldiers after a Nato summit in April, when Washington asked allies to contribute more troops. Critics accused him of leading France into a Vietnam-style quagmire to regain favour with the Bush Administration.

The French are mostly deployed in Kabul province and Kapisa province, northeast of the capital, which is dominated by conservative Pashtun tribes.

Kapisa is also considered a stronghold of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Mujahidin leader who is now fighting Nato forces and is wanted as a terrorist by the US. The French were ambushed in Sarobi district, which is on the main eastern supply route between Kabul and Pakistan and is dominated by Pashtun tribes considered loyal to Mr Hekmatyar. Senior Taleban commanders told The Times this year that they aimed to cut off supply routes to Kabul. Since then the Taleban have closed in on the capital to such an extent that it is now dangerous for troops, aid workers and civilians to travel on the routes to the south, east and west of the city.

Haroun Mir, of the Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies, said that the Taleban appeared to be using the same tactics as the Mujahidin against Soviet forces.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taleban spokesman, declined to explain the aims of the Sarobi attack, but said that the French had lost 30 troops.

“Many civilians were killed when the French called in an airstrike,” he told The Times, without giving further details.

The Taleban also carried out two bold attacks over the past two days on Camp Salerno in the eastern province of Khowst, 20 miles from the Pakistani border, according to Isaf and Mr Mujahid.

Several car bombs on the base perimeter killed ten Afghans and wounded thirteen on Monday. Seven insurgents, including six suicide bomb-ers, were killed trying to attack the base yesterday, Isaf said.

Mr Mujahid said that 30 insurgents took part and had killed 40 US soldiers, but Isaf said that no Americans had died.


Oi Mac..the problem with the Russian involvement was that the Afghans were against them. This conflict is different. Nobody wants the Taleban in there..they are an obscene group who are hated by their own people. I get so annoyed at this defeatist attitude. Sympathise with the families of the dead!

kirk, Rotherham, UK

Good for the insurgents. They are defending their land.
All talk of democracy and western values… Do people really believe that rubbish.. or do they actually know they are complicit in murder and occupation for cheap transit of pipelines?

Conrad Konig, London, UK

In a word? Oil.

Thank you and good night.

Scott, Los Angeles, USA

God bless the French soldiers and their families. They are fighting for freedom from terrorism and we in the United States appreciate their ultimate sacrifice.

Wm., Madison, Wisconsin , USA

7 years and still no democracy or reelection. Hamid Karzai has been the prime minister or government head since the invasion. Only a few have been ruling and the rest mind their business so they do not caught between talebans and the ruling government. Foreigner’s come and go all the time.

Naleen Lal, Northern California,

“Struggle against terrorism”? Pull the other one. What’s going on in Afghanistan is an occupation by foreign forces. The locals don’t want to be occupied and will win in the end, as they always have. Remember the USSR’s humiliating defeat?

David MacGregor, Auckland , New Zealand

British commanders call for more troops to stave off Taliban victory

August 10, 2008

Senior British commanders are to warn ministers that unless thousands more troops are sent to Afghanistan the Taliban will win back control of the country.

They are recommending a rapid reduction in the 4,000 troops in Iraq so that more can go to Afghanistan. American and British commanders in Afghanistan want an Iraq-style surge “within months” to fend off a Taliban victory before next year’s presidential election there.

One senior officer said the Taliban were now operating in areas where they had not been since the allied invasion in 2001.

“Unless the West commits serious numbers of extra troops soon, we are looking at a Taliban victory,” another officer said.

British officers fear that having been accused of failing in Iraq, they will face a second defeat caused solely by the failure to provide sufficient troops.

They have already begun lobbying to persuade Gordon Brown to back the idea of a surge. The prime minister, however, is looking for a “peace dividend” from the Iraq withdrawal that would cut the £1.7 billion annual cost of the two operations.

Des Browne, the defence secretary, ordered his officials last week to deny that there were any plans to send more troops. Nato chiefs in Afghanistan, however, including General David McKiernan, the American commander, and his British deputy, Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley, are “screaming out” for more troops, sources said.

They see the presidential election as a strategic “tipping point” and are concerned that worsening security will make it impossible to hold a meaningful vote. They are said to be backed by senior British officers in charge of planning Afghanistan operations, including Lieutenant-General Nick Houghton, chief of joint operations.

Browne insisted last week that he had always increased troop numbers when asked by commanders, pointing to a 230-man increase in June. Commanders say that is nowhere near enough.

One senior officer said: “We can beat them face to face; we just can’t be everywhere, and that has allowed them to gain ground.”

– Troops flying home from Iraq and Afghanistan face delays after it emerged that two of the RAF’s three Tristar C2 transport aircraft have to be taken out of service so that cracks in their wing flaps can be repaired. The Ministry of Defence insisted it can maintain an “air bridge” by civilian charter.


I hope the democractic criminals of PPP and PML N withdraw their support for war on terror. Let US get sucked into a bitter war. Pakistan military has been betrayed by its allies in the west. Hope yo will enjoy Taliban supporter Nawaz Sharif back in power,

Ali, Islamabad, Pakistan

Why shouldn’t they win? It’s their country and the US/UK has no right to occupy it. Despite the West’s characterization of Afghan insurgents and crazed religious fanatics, they are nationalistic just like any other people, plus they believe themselves invincible because they defeated the Soviets.

Paul Wolf, Washington DC, USA