Afghanistan: Pakistan fury at US cross-border attacks - Asia - World - The Independent

Afghanistan: Pakistan fury at US cross-border attacks

Raids by US forces based in neighbouring Afghanistan risk undermining Islamabad's new civilian government

Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, is facing demands to withdraw co-operation with the US in the "war on terror" amid rising anger at the increasing number of American attacks on Pakistani soil. There have been four so far this month, including the first acknowledged ground assault by US special forces based across the border in Afghanistan.

Despite official Pakistani condemnation of the strikes, mostly by missiles fired from Predator drones, Mr Zardari is being accused by opposition parties of having secretly agreed to them. Equally damaging, it is possible that Pakistan's military chiefs were aware of US operations but did not inform him.

The row has intensified in the past week since the disclosure that President George Bush signed an order in July authorising cross-border attacks from Afghanistan without seeking Pakistani agreement.

The US has made no secret of its concern at Afghanistan's worsening instability, emphasised yesterday by the death of a provincial governor in a suicide bombing 12 miles from Kabul. The US emphasis on the militant threat from Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, where al-Qa'ida's top leaders are believed to be hiding, is part of a reassessment of US priorities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Bush said last week that troop levels in Iraq would remain high, with only 8,000 coming home early next year, and he announced a "quiet surge" in Afghanistan. A Marines battalion due to go to Iraq in November will be switched to Afghanistan, and an army combat brigade will follow, adding about 4,500 US troops to the 33,000 already there.

Mr Bush's statement was followed by congressional testimony from Admiral Michael Mullen, the top US military commander. He told the House Armed Services Committee: "I'm not convinced we're winning it in Afghanistan", but added he was "convinced we can" as long as there is a new strategy to address the issue of militants in Pakistan.

"These two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them," he said. "We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan... but until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming."

The recent wave of cross-border attacks raised the question of how much co-ordination there has been with Pakistan's civilian government. On several occasions, Pakistani helicopter gunships have swept the area shortly after US missile strikes, signalling a degree of tacit acceptance by the military.

However, on 3 September, US special forces crossed near the Afghan village of Angoor Adda and attacked a Pakistani settlement only a few hundred yards from the border. At least 15 people were killed, with local people claiming some were civilians.

The anger caused by this incident grew after The New York Times disclosed Mr Bush's secret order to permit ground operations in Pakistan. It quoted a senior US official as saying: "We have to be more assertive. Orders have been given."

Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, condemned the raids and denied any "agreement or understanding" that would allow Nato forces to operate on Pakistan's territory. But he attended a conference aboard USS Abraham Lincoln in the Indian Ocean last month with Admiral Mullen and top US commanders in Afghanistan.

If the US has decided to bypass Mr Zardari's civilian government, it risks exacerbating Pakistan's "significant political uncertainty", the phrase used by Admiral Mullen in his congressional testimony.

Military analysts expect the bulk of American reinforcements to be sent to eastern Afghanistan, bordering the tribal areas. But in Helmand province, where most of Britain's 8,000 troops are stationed, 2,500 US Marines sent to help early this year will not be replaced.

Bolstered by air power, the Marines drove the Taliban out of the southern district of Garmsir. They are now handing the district back to Afghan and British troops, but it remains to be seen whether these forces have the firepower to maintain the gains.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week