Kayani visits NDUW; calls on heads of US agencies
WASHINGTON: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani called on Mr Robert Gates, Secretary of Defence, Admiral Michael Mullen and General George Casey.
According to ISPR, General Kayani discussed matters of mutual interest with particular reference to security situation in the region. Chief of Army Staff also called on Lieutenant General Mapples, Director Defence Intelligence Agency.
During the day COAS also visited Pentagon and held a detailed meeting with Admiral Michael Mullen, CJCS in which they continued their discussions on regional strategic matters. Official bilateral round table talks were also held between the COAS and General George Casey, US Army Chief.
As a mark and in recognition of “his superb leadership qualities and for making Pakistan Army a robust and capable fighting force and also keeping with the finest traditions of military service, being great credit upon himself, the Pakistan Army and Pakistan”, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was awarded the Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander).
Earlier on arrival at Fort Mayer, an impressive welcome ceremony was held in which a smartly turned out contingent of US Army presented Guard of Honour. COAS also laid wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. (The News)
Taliban declare 4-day ceasefire in Bajaur
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had declared a unilateral ceasefire in Bajaur late on Monday. He said in a radio broadcast his men had vacated Inayat Killay, a Taliban stronghold outside Bajaur’s main town of Khar. staff report/agencies
Fazlullah declares indefinite ceasefire* Asks his men to stop displaying weapons, end attacks on military vehicles
* Warns against fresh troop deployment, orders NGOs out
* Security forces block Taliban chief’s radio channel during speech
MINGORA: Swat Taliban declared an indefinite ceasefire in the valley on Tuesday, and freed four policemen and three Frontier Constabulary troops.
The decision was made in a meeting of the Taliban shura (council) on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said.
Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah announced the decision in a speech that was cut short when the security forces blocked the transmission of his FM radio channel.
He asked his men to stop displaying weapons, end their armed patrols and not to attack security convoys or abduct government officials, according to copies of the speech sent to the media.
He urged the government to restore all officials removed during the unrest in Swat.
A private TV channel said the security forces had imported equipment to jam the radio transmission and used it for the first time on Tuesday.
Fazlullah ordered his commanders to disband their checkpoints, which he said created “unnecessary problems” for residents.
Taliban had set up checkpoints in several areas of Swat where they checked all travellers. One security official expressed hope that the illegal checkpoints would be removed following the speech.
The Taliban chief also stopped all non-government organisations from operating in the valley until sharia law’s implementation.
“All NGOs should leave Swat because they are creating problems for peace,” Fazlullah said in the speech. But he added that emergency medical crews were exempt from the order.
It is not clear how many charities operate in the valley.
Fazlullah called on soldiers deployed in Swat to remain at their bases, vowing to retaliate against any troop increases. (Daily Times)
|سوات میں امن معاہدے کے بعد کافی سکون نظر آ رہا ہے|
دوسری جانب امریکہ نے پاکستان کے اندر جاسوس طیاروں سے حملے بند کرنے کی بجائے اس میں شدت لانے کا عندیہ دیا ہے۔ سینیئر صحافی اور تجزیہ نگار سلیم صافی کہتے ہیں کہ طالبان سمجھتے ہیں کہ مستقبل قریب میں ان کے لیے ناصرف کام بڑھ رہا ہے بلکہ خطرات بھی بڑھ رہے ہیں تو شاید یہ اس کے لیے تیاری ہو رہی ہے۔
Wednesday, 25 Feb, 2009 (Dawn)
WASHINGTON, Feb 24: Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, has said that the United States will not quit the region and will stay as long as it takes to eradicate terrorism from there.
“Americans never quit,” said Mr Holbrooke in an interview to PBS television. “We’ve surmounted other things. We’ll survive, whatever happens. I believe in our strength.”
A transcript made available to the media on Tuesday quoted Mr Holbrooke as saying that a US intelligence chief could also discuss with the ISI chief the question of an alleged relationship between his agency and the militants.
“The degree of that continuing relationship is one of the things that need to be discussed openly and candidly between two friends, America and Pakistan,” he said.
“The US gives a lot of assistance to Pakistan. And most people, me included, feel that Pakistan does not do enough to stop the people who from bases in Pakistan cross into Afghanistan and attack American and allied forces.”
Ambassador Holbrooke described President Zardari as “critically important” for the US and said that Washington would help him expand his authority.
“The question of his degree of authority over elements of the government is a legitimate one, which he himself has talked about openly. And this government, American government -- wants to support civilian democratic rule in Pakistan,” he added.Mr Holbrooke said US President Barack Obama was forced to send additional 17,000 to Afghanistan now, and not after the review, because the situation on ground in both Afghanistan and Pakistan was serious.
“Some people said you should have waited for the end of the strategic review to send the troops. That option was not available given the situation that President Obama inherited on day one of his presidency,” he said.
Ambassador Holbrooke said the new US strategy would involve all of Afghanistan’s neighbours including Pakistan, China, India, Russia, Iran and even Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which were farther afield.
“Afghanistan would last longer than Iraq, that it would be more difficult … this is something else. This is a really difficult problem, because it involves so many different countries,” he added.
“And Afghanistan and Pakistan are completely interrelated in this regard. There is no way that the international effort in Afghanistan can succeed unless Pakistan can get its western tribal areas under control.”
Mr Holbrooke said even if Afghanistan had the best government in the world; it could not succeed in bringing normalcy to the country if Pakistan’s tribal areas remained out of control.
Mr Holbrooke said that while the US wanted to make sure that Afghanistan did not become a safe haven for terrorists who could deliver another 9/1; that’s not a final objective.
“It is an interim necessity as we work towards a basic strategic outcome, which covers an objective which involves Pakistan as well,” he added.
“Because if you deny Afghanistan to Al Qaeda, which American troops can do, but Al Qaeda remains in Pakistan, you remain at risk.”
The US officials indicated that drone attacks to destroy militants sanctuaries would continue.
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