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Britain risks US rift in war against Taliban

Jimmy Burns, Financial Times
The British government yesterday risked fuelling a rift with the US and some members of the Afghan government by supporting a military commander’s statement suggesting that the war against the Taliban cannot be won.

A spokesman said the UK’s ministry of defence “did not have a problem” with warning the UK public not to expect a “decisive military victory” and to prepare instead for a possible deal with the Taliban.

“Our ministers have said before that the combat in Afghanistan is not about winning or losing. We have always said it is about improving infrastructure and making sure that the Afghanistan army and police can take over security. We are also looking for a political settlement,” the spokesman told the FT.

… Nato commanders and diplomats have been saying for some time that the Taliban insurgency cannot be defeated by military means alone and that negotiations with the militants will ultimately be needed to bring an end to the conflict.
(6 October 2008)
Afghan war cannot be won militarily: U.N. (Reuters)
Talks with Taliban the only way forward in Afghanistan, says UK commander (Guardian)

Pakistan facing bankruptcy

Isambard Wilkinson, UK Telegraph
Officially, the central bank holds $8.14 billion (£4.65 billion) of foreign currency, but if forward liabilities are included, the real reserves may be only $3 billion – enough to buy about 30 days of imports like oil and food.

Nine months ago, Pakistan had $16 bn in the coffers.

The government is engulfed by crises left behind by Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler who resigned the presidency in August. High oil prices have combined with endemic corruption and mismanagement to inflict huge damage on the economy.

Given the country’s standing as a frontline state in the US-led “war on terrorism”, the economic crisis has profound consequences. Pakistan already faces worsening security as the army clashes with militants in the lawless Tribal Areas on the north-west frontier with Afghanistan.

The economic crisis has already placed the future of the new government in doubt after the transition to a civilian rule.
(6 October 2008)

Pakistan blames US raids for hotel bombing

Omar Waraich, Anne Penketh and Andrew Buncombe, The Independent
The Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, will plead with President George Bush today to change a policy which is being blamed for one of his country’s worst terrorist atrocities.

“We hope the US will change policy because this is what is needed,” said Pakistan’s ambassador to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, after 53 people were killed and more than 250 injured in the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. He argued that the Bush administration’s decision to allow cross-border incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan, including by ground forces on at least one occasion, had been counterproductive “because they are not killing high-value targets, they are killing civilians”.

Mr Zardari’s talks with President Bush in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, have been scheduled amid heightened security fears in the wake of the bombing…
(23 September 2008)

Index on Afghanistan and Pakistan – Murder & Security, Aug/Sept. ’08

Sarah Meyer, Index Research
An index of articles of press stories complied by Sarah Meyer at Index Research on Afghanistan and Pakistan including:


1. Preface
2. Murder in Azizabad
3. Further deaths in Afghanistan
4. Afghanistan (Refugees, Women and Children, Opium)
5. Pakistan (General; Refugees; Dead in Pakistan)
6. Oil and Gas
7. Aid, Military Contracts, Contractors
8. United States: Reports, General, Bush – Troops, 9/11
9. US-NATO (General; Transportation)
10. NATO Coalition
11. US-NATO deaths
12. Human Rights (Reports, General, Rendition, Guantanamo)
13. References

(22 September 2008)