Al-QAEDA founder Osama bin Laden is alive and sheltering in ‘lawless parts of Pakistan’ on the border with Afghanistan, according to US Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell.
With this allegation, McConnell was setting the scene for a US threat that it will take military action against the Taleban and Al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, thus spreading the Afghan war into that country with Vietnam style ‘hot pursuit’ operations as well as bombing and missile raids.
McConnell blamed President Pervez Musharraf’s government for the US’ desperate situation in Afghanistan, saying that a Pakistani government initiative of last year – a peace pact with the local tribal leaders had handed the area over to Al-Qaeda.
McConnell insisted that the US was not after regime change in Pakistan and that Musharraf remained a key ally.
However his remarks followed a refusal of the White House to rule out US military action inside Pakistan.
McConnell had told US television that the peace accord between the Musharraf government and local pro-Taleban tribal leaders in Wazirstan had turned the area into a ‘safe haven’ for Al-Qaeda, from where it could prepare new attacks on the US and inflict mass casualties, as it had on September 11 2001.
‘Instead of pushing Al-Qaeda out, they made a safe haven for training and recruiting. Al-Qaeda’s been able to regain some of its momentum,’ the US spy chief said.
Now, after the siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad by the Pakistani army, the tribal leaders have torn up the pact with Musharraf and civil war is breaking out.
The Pakistani president who took power originally in a military coup that overthrew the elected government, has also upset Pakistan’s secular authorities, the judiciary, the parliament and the lawyers.
He sacked the country’s chief justice, but was forced to accept his return by an upheaval that followed in every part of the country.
The military regime which balanced between the religious and the secular establishments has now lost support from both wings and is completely unbalanced and somewhat isolated.
The scale of the crisis is enormous, since Pakistan, a former strategic ally of the US, was allowed by it to develop a range of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
Now the US is faced with propping up the military regime by attacking its opponents in the tribal areas of Pakistan, effectively spreading the war, while it looks for another more suitable military officer to take over from Musharraf.
McConnell’s statement that if Musharraf were forced from power by the combination of tribal uprising and pro-democracy unrest sweeping through Pakistan, this could have a ‘severe impact’ on the ‘US struggle against terrorism’ is being treated in Pakistan as a complete understatement of the dangers that the US now faces.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri has tried to appease the United States by telling CNN that instead of intelligence estimates, the United States should give Islamabad ‘evidence, actionable intelligence’ on the Al-Qaeda presence inside Pakistan.
‘Let the United States provide us with actionable intelligence, and you will find that Pakistan will never be lacking,’ he said.
However the White House has already found Musharraf to be ‘lacking’.
White House spokesman Tony Snow, when asked by reporters on Thursday whether US forces could strike militants inside Pakistan, said: ‘We never rule out any options, including striking actionable targets.’
United States imperialism is about to get sucked even deeper into the Asian quagmire!
There is no doubt that US military action inside Pakistan, will set Central Asia alight. The end result will see all US forces, and their allies being driven out of the oil and gas rich region.