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Officials sent to Afghanistan for Nato intrusion probe

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Pakistani drivers sit on a front bumper of a truck carrying supplies for NATO forces parked with other trucks at a roadside near the boarder crossing with Afghanistan in Torkhum, Some 150 trucks have been still waiting for Pakistan to reopen the border crossing in Torkham so that they can deliver their supplies to Western troops in Afghanistan. – Photo by AP

PESHAWAR: Pakistan has sent a team to Afghanistan to probe a cross-border Nato attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers, officials said on Sunday.

Pakistan has blocked the Torkham route for Nato convoys carrying supplies to Afghanistan since the helicopter attack in Kurram tribal region on Thursday, which Nato claimed was in self-defence but was condemned by Islamabad.

A two-member Pakistan team led by Brigadier Usman Khattak, deputy inspector-general of the Frontier Corps, travelled to Afghanistan on Saturday to join an investigation into the incident by the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force and US officials, an official said.

Brigadier Khattak had already visited the site of the attack and held talks with troops deployed in the area, the official said.

The border Torkham remained closed for a fourth day on Sunday.

“We will review the position when the security situation is normalised,” the official said, adding that efforts were continuing to resolve the problem through negotiations.

Queues of more than 200 trucks and oil tankers have formed at the border as they wait to deliver supplies to the 152,000 foreign troops fighting a nine-year Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials indicated on Sunday that the border crossing was a short-term measure and it would be reopened soon.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said that the route had been closed because of public reaction in the area to the Nato strikes, and that it would be reopened once things normalised.

“The supply has been suspended because of security reasons and it will be resumed as soon as these reasons are addressed,” he said.

While Nato and the United States have alternative supply routes into Afghanistan, the Pakistani ones are the cheapest and most convenient.

Most of the coalition’s non-lethal supplies are transported over Pakistani soil after being unloaded at docks in Karachi.

Our Correspondent adds from Washington: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States said his country needed only “technical” help from Washington, not US troops on the ground.

Hussain Haqqani also told CNN’s State of the Union programme that Pakistan would reopen the Torkham supply route “relatively quickly,” probably in less than a week.

He also insisted that Pakistan would move against militants on its own schedule, not Washington’s.

“Pakistan is saying we will take care of all terrorists on the Pakistani side of the border, but we will do it on our timeline,” he said. “We cannot always follow a timeline that our allies set for us, because we are allies, not a satellite.”Ambassador Haqqani also said Pakistan couldn’t do everything Washington wanted “because sometimes we don’t have the capacity and sometimes we don’t have the means.”

China looks to Pakistan for access to Afghanistan

The hurly burly is done. Pakistan signed six contracts spanning many area. The details of the six contracts were not published. Too many curios minds want to know. It is none of their business. When the stacks go up in Chasma, the rails are laid in the Karakoram, the housing colonies spout up all over Pakistan, and the industrial zones begin manufacturing Chinese goods, the world will know what happened in Beijing this week. No point in raising hackles in Delhi and Washington. Already Bharat is going trough convulsions about Afghanistan, and spasms about C-3 and C-4 construction.

Voice of America is looking at President Zardari’s visit to China with great trepidation. The US announces a “Strategic Partnership” amid much fanfare, and admits past mistakes in dealing with Pakistan. At the drop of a hat, Hillary Clinton threatens Pakistan. That is not a partnership. The real partnership is with Pakistan—where billions of Dollars worth of stuff happens without fanfare and without crassly reminding the Pakistanis every day about “aid”. These are some of the reasons why China is so popular in Pakistan.

Here is the VOA report

Regional security analysts say a six-day visit by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to China this week – his fifth since stepping into office – highlights the growing ties between the two countries.  They say that in addition to providing a hedge against India in the region, Pakistan is Beijing’s window on Afghanistan and its strategic interests in the war torn country.

For Pakistan, President Zardari’s trip to China seems to be largely focused on drawing Chinese investment to the country.

On Wednesday in Beijing, Mr. Zardari met with Chinese business leaders from industries ranging from banking to defense. The president appealed for Chinese help in developing the country’s energy sector and noted that the true potential of business opportunities between the two countries had yet to be realized.
Mr. Zardari and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed six agreements, but details were not made public.

Sumit Ganguly, a political science professor at Indiana University, says that while Islamabad is looking to Beijing to help build up its infrastructure and address its energy needs, China is looking to Pakistan to understand the future of Afghanistan.

“The Pakistanis recently have been talking to the Taliban and have been trying to convince President Karzai to reach an agreement with the Taliban as the U.S. prepares to withdraw in July 2011,” he said.

Gangulay says that Pakistan would like to have a government that incorporates the Taliban in Afghanistan because Islamabad believes such a regime would be sympathetic to Pakistani interests.

“Karzai is under considerable pressure from the Pakistan to fold, and the Chinese are curious probably to know how exactly things will play out,” he said.
Michael Swaine, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, says China looks at the Afghanistan situation through its relationship with Pakistan.

“If there is a problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan is concerned about that problem, China wants to make sure it is on the same wave length as Pakistan,” he said.
Swaine says that such problems could be anything that raise questions and concerns about the stability of Afghanistan – such as the expansion of Indian influence or the emergence of Taliban groups that do not support the Pakistan government.

Dan Blumenthal of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington says both Pakistan and China are using their relationship as a hedge against the possibility that the U.S. does not succeed in Afghanistan.

“That key relationship has always been important for both sides, for the Chinese increasingly so; to have some influence in South Asia and Central Asia, and for the Pakistanis to have options in case things go really south in Afghanistan,” he said.
Professor Gangulay says that Beijing’s close relationship with Islamabad has helped China in Afghanistan and made it possible for the Chinese to avoid working with the U.S. government in any meaningful fashion.

“The Chinese are doing quite well in Afghanistan,” he said. “They have managed to get lucrative contracts to extract copper and other mineral resources from Afghanistan.  And as long as the Pakistanis have a substantial presence after the American withdrawal, why should they care about our [U.S.] interests.”
President Barack Obama has set July 2011 as a date to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, if conditions on the ground permit.

However, analysts like Michael Swaine note that China is not looking for the United States to quickly pull out of Afghanistan, because that could result in more instability that would threaten the region and its economic interests there as well.

“Now that said, I don’t think they [China] want the United States to remain in Afghanistan either for an extended period of time,” said Swaine. “They want a stable regime in Afghanistan that they can work; that will be accepting of and receptive of both their economic interests in Afghanistan – which are growing and are significant – and a regime that will work with Pakistan.”

China has large investments in Afghanistan, including a multi-billion dollar project to develop a copper mine in the Aynak valley, just south of the capital, Kabul.  It has also provided a range of aid to Afghanistan by helping it build a communications infrastructure, hospitals, and irrigation systems among other projects.
Despite concerns voiced by its critics, Chinese officials say Beijing’s relationship with Islamabad benefits peace, stability and prosperity of the region.

China’s Positive Ratings dip 9% in India, Remain High in Pakistan

BEIJING: China’s positive ratings in India have dipped with a new opinion poll showing 34 per cent of Indians view it favourably compared to 43 per cent in an earlier survey, but 85 per cent of Pakistanis rated it as a friendly nation.

The survey, conducted by US-based Pew Research Centre to gauge the world wide perspectives about China, showed that 52 per cent Indians viewed China unfavourably while 34 per cent gave it a favourable rating.

The new polls showed a nine per cent dip in the favourable rating enjoyed by China in India as an earlier survey conducted by Chinese firm Horizan research consultancy group between 2000 and 2009 showed that 43 per cent Indians considered China as a partner and 23 per cent regarded it as hostile.

Results of the PEW survey published in the state-run China Daily here showed an interesting pattern with Beijing receiving its best ratings in Kenya where 86 per cent viewed it favourably compared to 10 per cent negatively.

According to the survey conducted in 22 nations from April 7 to May 8 this year, China understandably enjoyed high positive rating of 85 per cent in Pakistan. Only three per cent of Pakistanis interviewed gave unfavourable rating to China, projected as all-weather friend.

The rising Asian power, however, received mixed ratings across the world. Thirty six per cent viewed China unfavourably in United States against 49 per cent, 46 per cent regarded it positively in Britain against 35 per cent, 41 per cent against 59 in France.

China received good ratings in Russia too where 60 per cent viewed it favourably compared to 29 per cent negative perceptions.

Among the countries where China was viewed mostly negatively was Japan which has historic disputes with China. Sixty nine per cent Japanese viewed China unfavourably compared to 26 per cent otherwise.

In Germany, 61 per cent viewed China negatively compared to 30 per cent and 61 per cent view Beijing negatively compared to 20 per cent in Turkey.

Former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who co-chaired the Pew global attitudes project, noted at a Washington news conference on Thursday that China is regarded highly as a result of the country’s fast economic growth. “Their star is clearly rising,” she said.

In addition to China’s economic growth rate, Albright attributed the trend to the increased willingness of the Chinese side to “be a part of the solution to global issues”, which include the world economic crisis, Korean Peninsula denuclearisation and the Iran nuclear issue.

“A lot more people now know about China and have been to China,” she said, citing the Beijing Olympic Games and Shanghai Expo as examples of China’s improved “visibility” on the global stage, which promotes a better understanding of the country.

A Beijing-based international analyst Pang Zhongyin said the result of the poll is nothing new and Beijing still needs to step up efforts to strengthen communication with the world.

Being the “factory of the world”, China has contributed a lot to the world economy and its influence has kept growing, especially after the global financial crisis, Pang said.

“And such emerging economic power is unfortunately accompanied by misgivings from other countries and we need to convince the world that China is not what they imagine,” he said.

Pang emphasised the importance of public diplomacy, saying the Chinese government, from the top leader to the ordinary diplomat, has gradually taken the idea in mind.

He noted that Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent interactions with local people during his visit to the Republic of Korea and Japan is a good example of extending the message that China is not a threat.