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Pakistan: tensions deepen as war spills over

Issue No. 2223

Nato’s beleaguered Afghan war continued to spill over into Pakistan this week, reigniting tensions between the US and the leaders of its client state.

US drone aircraft rained down rockets on a refugee camp in North Waziristan last Sunday.

This was just hours after the Pakistani government agreed to reopen a border crossing to Nato trucks taking supplies from the port city of Karachi to the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The Pakistani government closed the border after the US launched a helicopter raid on its territory.

US soldiers killed a number of Pakistani troops after allegedly mistaking them for Jihadi fighters.

The sealing of the border had enabled militant tribesmen to launch a series of embarrassing attacks upon US convoys.

Some 500 Nato oil tankers are currently missing in Pakistan.

The latest drone attacks have fuelled growing resentment, and are set to escalate as the CIA diverts more of the unmanned aircraft from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Pakistani government officials estimated the number of civilians killed by drone attacks in 2009 alone at more than 700.

That figure is likely to be even higher this year.

A report in the Pakistani Dawn newspaper concluded, “For each Al Qaida and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 percent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.”

A White House report this week admitted that the war in Afghanistan is making “slow progress”—and that the inability or unwillingness of Pakistan’s military to effectively target militants on its side of the border is part of the problem.

But with public opinion in Pakistan hardening against the US, every wave of drone attacks increases the chances of a permanent fracture in the “war on terror”.

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Tue 12 Oct 2010, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2223
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