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Pakistan General Dismisses North Waziristan ‘Hype’

Pakistan General Dismisses North Waziristan ‘Hype’

Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik

 

MOHAMAD GAT, Pakistan — A leading Pakistani commander on Wednesday sought to play down “media hype” over the prospect of an imminent military offensive to meet US interests in North Waziristan.

 

In the fallout from Osama bin Laden’s killing, US officials are said to have increased pressure on Pakistan to mount a major offensive in the district, considered the premier Taliban and Al-Qaeda fortress along the Afghan border.

 

Local newspaper The News reported this week that Pakistan had decided to launch a “careful and meticulous” military offensive in North Waziristan after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Islamabad.

 

But Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the corps commander supervising all military operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told reporters: “We will undertake operation in North Waziristan when we want to.”

 

“There has been a lot of media hype about the operation,” said Malik in the Mohamad Gat area of tribal district Mohmand, where the military flew reporters to show off apparent progress in battles against homegrown Taliban.

 

“I do not operate on press reports. I get orders from my high command,” he said in response to a question.

 

“We will undertake such an operation when it is in our national interest militarily,” the general said, describing North Waziristan as “calm and peaceful as it was weeks ago”.

 

The remote, mountainous region has attracted major interest in the United States as a fiefdom of the Haqqani network, one of its most potent enemies across the border in Afghanistan and thought to have a core of 4,000 fighters.

 

The Al-Qaeda-linked group attacks only across the border in Afghanistan, and is said to have long-standing ties to Pakistan’s intelligence services.

 

Pakistani officials are said to believe they cannot win if they take on its leaders, who command considerable tribal support and are well-armed.

 

Set up by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, the group is loyal to the Taliban and has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, including a suicide bombing in 2009 that killed seven CIA operatives.

 

But asked about the Haqqanis, Malik hit back: “We are misusing the word ‘network’. It does not become a network if four people sit together somewhere.”

 

Instead he said the military was focused on maintaining an already “stable” environment to undertake “developmental activity” in North Waziristan, and confirmed reports that a cadet college in the area had been reopened.

 

The army had closed the college at Razmak after Taliban militants briefly kidnapped 46 students and two staff in June 2009 as they were going home at the start of the summer holidays.

 

In the absence of a Pakistani military offensive, a covert CIA drone war on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked fighters has been concentrated in North Waziristan, and Western officials say it has dealt a major blow to militant capabilities.

 

But Pakistan is publicly opposed to the drones as a violation of sovereignty and parliament demanded an end to the attacks in the fallout over the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad by US troops.

 

Malik called the programme a “negative thing” that “creates instability and infringes” his relationships with local tribes, and rejected any question of a joint operation with US forces in North Waziristan or anywhere else.

 

Clinton last Friday urged Pakistan to take decisive steps to defeat Al-Qaeda, as she became the most senior US official to visit since US Navy SEALs found and killed bin Laden in the country on May 2.

 

The fact that the Al-Qaeda terror chief had been living in a garrison city just a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s top military academy raised disturbing questions about incompetence or complicity within the armed forces.

 

Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens on the Afghan border, Pakistan has been fighting for years against homegrown militants in much of the tribal belt, dubbed a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

 

Pakistan has always maintained that any North Waziristan operation would be of its own time and choosing, arguing that its 140,000 troops committed to the northwest are already too overstretched fighting elsewhere.


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Euphimisms: Obama asks for ‘Kashmir’ resolution without using ‘K’ word

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Euphimisms: Obama asks for ‘Kashmir’ resolution without using ‘K’ word

Marking the three regions of the Indian state ...Image via Wikipedia

We know that Richard Holbrooke was prohibited from using th “K” word. It seems Obama is also not allowed to mention Kashmir publicly. He did however mention it. Everyone who understand the language of politics knew what Obama was alluding to when he talked about “more controversial issues”. White House officials have already dropped hints that Kashmir will be discussed in private.

MUMBAI – President Barack Obama called on India on Sunday to bolster peace efforts with Pakistan, a country that he said was not acting quickly enough to deal with militancy within its borders.

Obama faces a diplomatic tightrope in fostering ties with India as its economic and geopolitical importance grows while at the same time helping Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and promoting wider peace in Afghanistan.

“My hope is that over time, trust develops between the two countries, that dialogue begins, perhaps on less controversial issues, building up to more controversial issues,” Obama told a meeting of students at a college in Mumbai.

“There are more Pakistanis who’ve been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan than probably anywhere else,” Obama said. (Reuters)

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It is disgusting that President Obama has to go to such lengths to hide his discussions with the Bharati government. Kashmir is disputed territory per several UN resolutions and the US recognizes the dispute. President Obama has let down millions of Kashmiris and Sikhs during this trip by not addressing them while in the land of the Call Centers.

INDIAN TERRORISM : Police attack worshippers in Kashmir

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Zubair Ahmed, who was wounded by gunfire, is wheeled on a stretcher at a hospital in Srinagar on October 1, 2010.
Paramilitary troops in Indian-administered Kashmir have opened fire on several Muslim worshippers as they were heading to a mosque for Friday Prayers.

Police say one person was injured when they opened fire on stone-throwing demonstrators who defied a curfew in the southern parts of Kashmir.

The families of the victims, however, say they were shot by Indian police while en route to the Friday Prayers in the predominantly Muslim region.

A Press TV correspondent said several injured people were rushed to the hospital after scuffles with police in the disputed Himalayan valley.

The developments come as authorities decided to extend the curfew on Friday, to prevent further protests after prayers.

Meanwhile, key separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a 10-day protest across the Muslim-majority region.

Kashmir has been in a siege-like state of strikes and curfew since June when a 17-year-old student was killed by police. More than 110 people have been killed over the past few months in protests, which are the biggest pro-independence rallies in decades.

Amnesty International has recently called on India to take immediate steps to protect and respect human rights in Kashmir.

“Security forces should use the minimum force necessary to defend themselves or others against an imminent threat of death or serious injury. They should not employ intentional lethal use of firearms except where such use is strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” an Amnesty International statement said.

US Drone strategy will fuel desire for revenge

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

US Drone strategy will fuel desire for revenge

Drone attacks operated by the CIA and the targeting of suspected militants in northern Pakistan have intensified over the past month even though officials in Islamabad deny that the upsurge is linked to a specific terror plot.

There have been at least 21 strikes in September, a monthly record, as the Obama administration aims to widen the scope to take in both high and low-ranking militants.

It was claimed this week that a senior al Qaeda figure, identified as Sheikh al-Fateh, was killed in a strike last Saturday.

This month’s strikes are said to have killed more than 100 people in the country’s remote tribal areas many of them, inevitably will have been civilians.

Some analysts believe that the upsurge in strikes, more than twice the monthly average reflects ongoing US efforts to try and maintain pressure on al Qaeda and Taleban militants ahead of a review of Afghan strategy later this year.

Having set in motion the timetable for its eventual departure from Afghanistan, the US is more aware than ever of its limited ability to force the Pakistani military to move against militants it considers national assets.

“It’s also part of a longer game,” said Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan security research unit at the University of Bradford. “Even after the US pulls out of Afghanistan there will still be a need for pressure on al Qaeda.”

The strikes, some involving multiple drones in co-ordinated attacks, have largely focused on the wild tribal region of North Waziristan, considered a safe haven for both al Qaeda, Taleban and associated militants.

Prime among the targets have been the Haqqani network, a father-and-son-led outfit described by Western intelligence agencies as the most potent threat to US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. The group is closely aligned with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban.

It also has a relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and yet exerts influence over the Pakistani Taleban.

Western security sources do not believe the latest terror plan involving European cities could have been the work of the Haqqanis although Robert Baer, a former CIA officer, told the BBC that the plot could be the clans’ response to sustained US aerial bombardment.

“They don’t understand why they are under attack and they intend to take revenge,” he said.

The group is now headed by the young, hot-headed commander, Sirajuddin Haqqani, but remains symbolically under the control of his septuagenarian father, Jalaluddin Haqqani,who rose as a mujahedin leader much favoured by the US in the 1980s. He was lavishly supported by the CIA and was once described by Texan Congressman Charlie Wilson as “goodness personified”.

From their base in North Waziristan, the Haqqanis have launched spectacular and vicious attacks on both Western troops and high profile targets in Kabul including an assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The Haqqanis are believed to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan, a tactic not seen there before.

The Haqqanis’ friendship with Osama Bin Laden was demonstrated in 1986, when they allowed the Saudi millionaire to erect his own militant base, known as the Lion’s Den, in Haqqani-controlled territory. Drone strategy may fuel al Qaeda desire for revenge. 10:13 AM Thursday Sep 30, 2010. – THE INDEPENDENT

India’s involvement in terrorism exposed at UN

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

India’s involvement in terrorism exposed at UN

UNITED NATIONS – India supported terrorist elements in neighbouring countries and even it helped set up the most lethal terrorist organisation, Tamil Tigers, which introduced suicide bombings in South Asian region, Pakistan told the UN General Assembly Wednesday.

In a forceful rebuttal of Indian External affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s accusation that Pakistan was linked to terrorism, Pakistani delegate Amjad Hussain Sial told 192 members that India had conducted state terrorism in Kashmir where people resorted to revolt against New Delhi’s rule marked by repression.

The tough Pakistani response led to a verbal clash between delegates of India and Pakistan towards the end of the Assembly’s high-level debate.

“India … conceived, created and nurtured the most lethal terrorist organisation, which introduced suicide bombings in our region,” he said, in an obvious reference to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“Still India has the nerve to give lectures on morality to others,” Sial said in a sharp rejoinder to Krishna’s claim that Kashmir was the target of “Pakistan-sponsored militancy and terrorism.”

Indian delegate, Manish Gupta, did speak in right of reply, but did not specifically address Pakistan’s statement about India’s role in creating the terrorist outfit.

Referring to Krishna’s “self-serving claim” that Jammu and Kashmir was part of India, the Pakistan delegate said nothing was farther from the truth. The disputed territory was on the agenda of the United Nations, which had passed resolutions to that effect. The first Prime Minster of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, had also made commitments – reaffirmation of which Pakistan welcomed – noting that Kashmir was not the property of either India or Pakistan, but belonged to the Kashmiri people.
He went on to say that India had failed to fulfil its commitments, but still had the audacity not only to claim democratic credentials, but also to aspire to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Pakistan had only echoed non-governmental organisations and the media as to the ongoing situation concerning human rights in India, as well as Kashmir.

India has maligned Pakistan on terrorism in order to hide its own behaviour, he went on to say, while adding Pakistan’s role in fighting terrorism had been stated by the international community, and security forces in Pakistan continued to try to make the world safer, although countries continued to provide weapons and money to create havoc.
Gupta, the Indian delegate, accused Pakistan of making “false allegations” about his country. In fact, he said, Pakistan needed to tackle many of its own problems, rather than making comments on what he called the internal affairs of India. Pakistan should focus particularly on the issue of terrorism and devise ways to dismantle it. The violence in Jammu and Kashmir was being waged by “forces that don’t want peace,” the Indian delegate said. He noted that free elections in Jammu and Kashmir had been conducted.

“The ongoing indigenous peaceful, unarmed, non-violent and widespread movement for ‘Azadi’ i.e. freedom in Indian occupied Kashmir has once again proved that despite facing decades of repression and some of the worst forms of human rights violations at the hands of Indian security forces, Kashmiris refuse to accept any other solution than the exercise of their just right to self-determination,” the Pakistan delegate said.

India, he said, had no other option but to implement Security Council’s demand for free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices. Sial declared that Pakistan would continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the just struggle of Kashmiri people to exercise their right of self-determination.

NATO Expands Afghan War Into Pakistan

September 30, 2010 1 comment

On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies will begin the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

The following month midterm elections will be held in the U.S. and NATO will hold a two-day summit in Portugal. The American administration is eager to achieve, or appear to have achieved, a foreign policy triumph in an effort to retain Democratic Party control of the Congress and NATO something to show for the longest and largest military mission in its 61 years of existence.

President Barack Obama has tripled the amount of American combat troops in Afghanistan to 100,000 and along with forces from other NATO member states and partner nations there are now over 150,000 foreign troops in the nation, the most ever stationed in the war-wracked country. 120,000 of those soldiers are now under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the most ever serving in a North Atlantic Alliance-led military operation. NATO Kosovo Force at its peak had 50,000 troops, but they entered the Serbian province after an almost three-month air war had ended.

The 120,000 NATO forces currently in theater – from 50 nations already with more pegged to provide troops – are at the center of the world’s longest-lasting and increasingly deadly hot war. NATO’s first ground war, its first combat operations in Asia.

Last year was the most lethal for the U.S and NATO in what is now a nine-year conflict and this year has already proven even more costly in terms of combat deaths. And there are three more months to go.

Washington and Brussels could decide to save face and end the fighting through some combination of an internal political settlement and a true international peacekeeping arrangement – rather than the subversion of the International Security Assistance Force that was established by a United Nations mandate in December of 2001 but which is now the Pentagon’s and NATO’s vehicle for waging war in Afghanistan. And in neighboring Pakistan.

But the military metaphysic prevalent in Washington over the past 65 years will allow for nothing other than what is seen as victory, with a “Who lost Afghanistan?” legacy tarnishing the president who fails to secure it and the party to which he belongs being branded half-hearted and defeatist.

As for NATO, the Strategic Concept to be adopted in November is predicated upon the bloc’s expansion into a 21st century global expeditionary force for which Afghanistan is the test case. A NATO that loses Afghanistan, that loses in Afghanistan, will be viewed more critically by the populations of its European member states that have sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altar of NATO’s international ambitions. In the words of then-Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer six years ago: “What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? Defending values at the Hindu Kush in the present day international climate. We have to fight terrorism wherever it emerges. If we don’t do it at the Hindu Kush, it will end up at our doorstep. In other words, this perception gap [of the North Atlantic military alliance operating in South Asia] in the long run must be closed and must be healed – that is, for NATO’s future, of the utmost importance.” [1]

Not satisfied with the Vietnam that Afghanistan has become, NATO has now launched its Cambodian incursion. One with implications several orders of magnitude greater than with the prototype, though, into a nation of almost 170 million people, a nation wielding nuclear weapons. Pakistan.

As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the “right of self-defense” and in “hot pursuit” of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.

Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later “82 or higher.” [2]

The amount, like the identify, of the dead will never be definitively known.

Press reports stated the targets were members of the Haqqani network, founded by veteran Afghan Mujahedin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, who when he led attacks from Pakistani soil against Afghan targets slightly over a generation ago was an American hero, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.” Two years ago the New York Times wrote: “In the 1980s, Jalaluddin Haqqani was cultivated as a ‘unilateral’ asset of the CIA and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, according to an account in ‘The Bin Ladens,’ a recent book by Steve Coll. At that time, Haqqani helped and protected Osama bin Laden, who was building his own militia to fight the Soviet forces, Coll wrote.” [3]

As to the regret that the otherwise praiseworthy Haqqani has of late allied himself with the Taliban, one voiced by among other people the late Charlie Wilson who once celebrated Haqqani as “goodness personified,” in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press last year Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told his American audience that the Taliban “was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that….” [4]

On September 27 two NATO helicopters attacked the Kurram agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, killing six people and wounding eight. A local Pakistani government official described all the victims as civilians. According to Dawn News, “Nato has also shelled the area before.” [5] Three attacks in three days and as many as 100 deaths.

On the same day a U.S. drone-launched missile strike killed four people in the North Waziristan agency. “The identities of the four people killed in the attack were not known….” [6]

The above events occurred against the backdrop of the revelation in Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars that “a 3,000-strong secret army of Afghan paramilitary forces run by the Central Intelligence Agency had conducted cross-border raids into Pakistan.” [7]

After mounting in intensity for two years and consisting in part – helicopter gunship attacks and special forces assassination team raids – of covert operations, the U.S. and NATO war in Northwest Pakistan is now fully underway and can no longer be denied.

The Pentagon – the helicopters used in the attacks on September 25 and 26 were American Apaches and Kiowas – defended the strikes over the weekend as falling within its rules of engagement and Defense Department spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the U.S. had adhered to “appropriate protocol” and “Our forces have the right of self-defense.” [8]

A spokesmen for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force initially denied that Alliance forces had launched any attacks inside Pakistani territory, although Afghan police officials had confirmed that they did. On September 27, however, the International Security Assistance Force verified that NATO forces had conducted the deadly strikes. As the third attack by NATO helicopters occurred on the same day, “Coalition officials said the cross-border attacks fell within its rules of engagement because the insurgents had attacked them from across the border.” [9]

A NATO official informed the press that “ISAF forces must and will retain the authority, within their mandate, to defend themselves in carrying out their mission.” [10]

Mehmood Shah, former top security official of the Pakistani government in the region where the helicopter gunship and drone strikes have killed over 200 people so far this month, said of the recent NATO attacks: “This should be considered a watershed event. They [Nato] must be warned: the next time you do this, it can lead to war. Our units should be deployed to fire upon them. This border has sanctity. Nato must realise they have a mandate to operate in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.” [11]

On September 27 Interior Minister Rehman Malik denounced the NATO raids as a violation of Pakistani territorial integrity and national sovereignty and told the nation’s Senate that the Afghan ambassador to Islamabad would be summoned to explain the attacks. Malik and the Pakistani government as a whole know that the Hamid Karzai administration in Kabul has no control over what the U.S. and NATO do in its own country, much less in Pakistan. The interior minister’s comment were solely for internal consumption, for placating Pakistani popular outrage, but as Pakistan itself has become a NATO partner and U.S. surrogate [12] its officials, like those of Afghanistan, will not be notified of any future attacks.

Nevertheless domestic exigencies compelled Malik to denounce the strikes inside his country and assert “I take the drone attacks in Pakistani territory as an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan.” A senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz “asked the government to inform the parliament about any accord it had reached with the US under which drone attacks were being carried out.” [13]

At the same time Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit went further and lodged what was described as a strong protest to NATO Headquarters in Brussels over the weekend’s air strikes, issuing a statement that said in part: “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” as its mandate “terminates/finishes” at the Afghan border.

“There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules. Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable.” [14]

By the evening of September 27, after the Pakistani complaints were registered, NATO’s ISAF attempted to conduct damage control and reverted to the military bloc’s original position: That it has not launched attacks inside Pakistan at all. On that very day it had dispatched two more helicopter gunships for the third raid in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

NATO will continue to launch lethal attacks inside Pakistan against whichever targets it sees fit and will proffer neither warnings nor apologies. The U.S. will continue to escalate attacks with Hellfire missiles against whomever it chooses, however inaccurate, anecdotal and self-interested the reports upon which they are based prove to be.

The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.

Forty years ago Obama’s predecessor Richard Nixon began his speech announcing the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia with these words: “Good evening, my fellow Americans. Ten days ago, in my report to the nation on Vietnam, I announced the decision to withdraw an additional 150,000 Americans from Vietnam over the next year. I said then that I was making that decision despite our concern over increased enemy activity in Laos, in Cambodia, and in South Vietnam. And at that time I warned that if I concluded that increased enemy activity in any of these areas endangered the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam, I would not hesitate to take strong and effective measures to deal with that situation.” [15]

He claimed that “enemy sanctuaries” in Cambodia “endanger the lives of Americans who are in Vietnam,” and “if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier: a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation.”

The course he ordered was to “go to the heart of the trouble. And that means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories, these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.”

The practical application of the policy was that “attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border.”

In language that has been heard again lately in Washington and Brussels – with nothing but the place names changed – Nixon claimed: “We take this action not for the purpose of expanding the war into Cambodia, but for the purpose of ending the war in Vietnam….”

Washington indeed expanded the Vietnam War into Cambodia, with what disastrous effects the world is fully aware, and soon thereafter departed Southeast Asia in defeat, leaving vast stretches of Vietnam and Cambodia in ruins.

Afghanistan and Pakistan will not fare any better.

Pak Army dismisses reports of Europe plots

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Time and again, the western media keeps dragging Pakistan into matters that are speculative and most probably hoaxes. News of terrorism/plots of terrorism always tend to make headlines in any country. By labelling it as “Pakistan-based terror”, it seems some added credit points are awarded to the channel that reports it first – despite there being no evidence of any such threats. As to why the Indian and Western media has become so Pakistan-centric in the recent past is ofcourse not beyond comprehension. The US and its coalition (including India) are facing a hard time in Afghanistan, and now they’re trying to force the “Af & Pak” region into civil war so that they can have an honourable exit, blaming it on both the countries, by labelling them as “terrorists” or “rogue states”. Unfortunately for the Pentagon however, the situation is being rubbed in their face by their constant failure in Afghanistan.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army on Wednesday dismissed as “very speculative” media reports that this month’s  upsurge in US drone strikes on Islamist militants in the country’s northwest sought to disrupt attacks on European cities.

Sky News on Tuesday reported that militants based in Pakistan were planning simultaneous strikes in London akin to the 2008 militant assault on Mumbai as well as attacks on cities in France and Germany.

It said a month of strikes by pilotless drone aircraft focused on Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, in which more than 100 militants were killed, was intended to disrupt the plot.

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Reuters: “We don’t have any information or intelligence that militants had gathered there (in North Waziristan) and were plotting attacks. There is absolutely no intelligence on that.”

“Basically it’s very speculative,” he said of the Sky News report. “It’s a very speculative story. It does not quote any credible source.”

US security officials said they could not confirm that a plot had been disrupted. But they said they believed that the threat of a plot or plots remained.

While no senior-ranking militants were reported killed, Pakistani intelligence officials say a number of others of different nationalities are believed to have died.

On Sept 26, a senior al Qaeda leader, identified as Shaikh al-Fateh, also known as Shaikh Fateh al-Masri, was believed to have been killed, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

‘Not surprised at surge’

There have been 21 strikes carried out by the remotely piloted drones in September, the highest number in a single month.

Tehrik e Taliban(TTP) has made several threats against American and European targets, but has so far failed to carry out any overseas attacks.

US counter-terrorism agencies are poring over intelligence reports suggesting a major attack plot is currently in the works against unspecified targets in Western Europe or possibly the United States, US security officials said.

Four US security officials, who asked for anonymity, said that initial intelligence reports about the threat first surfaced two weeks ago, around the time of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

British security sources declined to comment on the Sky News report. Britain in January raised its international terrorism threat level to “severe” — the second highest level in the five-tier system.

In Germany, the interior ministry said that while Berlin had information on the alleged plots, there were no firm signs of an imminent attack.

“The current pointers do not warrant a change in the assessment of the danger level,” the ministry said in a statement.

A serious risk of attack

The head of Britain’s MI5 Security Service, Jonathan Evans, said on Sept. 16 there remained “a serious risk of a lethal attack taking place”.

“As we have repeatedly said, we know al Qaeda wants to attack Europe and the United States. We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al Qaeda,” US intelligence chief James Clapper said in a statement.

One US official said militants in Pakistan were “constantly” planning attacks in the region and beyond, and the United States would react to that.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that links between plots and those who are orchestrating them lead to decisive American action. The terrorists who are involved are, as everyone should expect, going to be targets. That’s the whole point of all of this,” the official said.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/56186/pakistan-army-dismisses-reports-of-europe-plots/