Situation in global war on terror remains stern

Two explosions tore through a crowded pedestrian area of Turkey's largest city of Istanbul when local residents sat around to enjoy the cool of the evening or strolled along bustling streets on late Sunday, July 27. The blasts killed at least 15 people and injured more than 150 others, and 15 of them seriously.

A day earlier, a string of 18 explosions rocked and destroyed markets, bus stations, residential quarters, hospitals and other crowded areas in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state, west India last Saturday or July 26. The serial explosions killed at least 45 people and wounded 161. Also in India, 60 people died and more than 150 were injured in seven successive bomb blasts that occurred on May 13.

Terrorist attacks have taken place not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in other countries and regions since early this year. In some thrilling bomb blasts, the cruel, ruthless nature of terrorists has been fully exposed or unmasked. They not only target at innocent civilians at some overcrowded sites, but also resort to other means as fixing snag nails and other stuffings into deadly explosive devices to cause maximal casualties. They even did not let off hospitals, where many rescuers got killed.

Appalling horrible scenes drenched with much bloodshed have given people all over the world a clear and strong signal: Terrorism still poses a very immediate threat to the contemporary world, and the situation with global war on terrorism remains stern and stark.

Then, some people would naturally ask this question: The war on terrorism launched by the United States has been still going on with a steady increase in the cost of manpower and material and financial resources, and why terrorist activities have turned so ferocious and rampant? Here, we'd better hear what Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has said. "The war against terror cannot be won by police force alone," President Ben Ali acknowledged, and some new preventative measures should be taken, and the root cause for generating terrorism has to be eradicated by means of improving democracy, popularizing education and culture, raising the status of women and eradicating poverty. If the infallibility is claimed from one's might and persistence bent on via military means to combat terrorism, the effect is likely to discount greatly.

With the war on terror having been fought for year after year, some others may also ask: Why terrorists have not sunk into oblivion but contrarily make people feel the world insecure and more violent as they have gone on fighting against the terrorism more resolutely and relentlessly? This is, however, owed to an outcome inflicted by some of the moves taken to combat terrorism, apart from varied political, economic and social factors.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed his grave concern over the humanitarian crisis. He vehemently denounced such anti-terrorist moves as an "ethnic cleansing" operation, the massive bombing of cities, the mistreatment and torture of prisoners in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law and the ensuing deaths of innocent people. More important, he deemed such moves could possibly be taken as the excuse for terrorists to attract or regroup new recruits and create a round after another of violence. Facts have again told people that erroneous actions will incur even more serious consequences.

How to further reinforce global cooperation constitutes an important realm worthy of attention for the global war on terrorism. Without an effective international cooperation, it is out of the question to attain the objective for anti-terrorism efficaciously. Some Western nations could hardly push ahead the worldwide cooperation in the war on terror as they often resort to double standards in the sphere of fighting against terrorism and give heed only to their own concern to the neglect of terrorist threats posed for others.

To date, all above-mentioned questions have shed light on causes for an inconspicuous effect and stark reality in the ongoing global war on terrorism. So, the global community should reappraise and re-think carefully of such issues as those regarding the outcome of the war on terror, on how terrorism has been bred and multiplied, how to beef up cooperation in the anti-terrorism field and how to seek a temporary solution and uproot the cause of terrorism.
By People's Daily

U.S. Officials: Pakistani Agents Helped Plan Kabul Bombing

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that elements of Pakistan's military intelligence service provided logistical support to militants who staged last month's deadly car bombing at the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's capital, U.S. officials familiar with the evidence said yesterday.

The finding, based partly on communication intercepts, has dramatically heightened U.S. concerns about long-standing ties between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, and Taliban-allied groups that are battling U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to two U.S. government officials briefed on the matter.

The July 7 bombing at the Kabul embassy has been linked to fighters loyal to Jalaluddin Haqqani, an ethnic Pashtun militant who has led pro-Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and has been associated with numerous suicide bombings in the region. More than 40 people were killed in one of the deadliest attacks on Afghan civilians since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

"There continues to be evidence of Taliban and Haqqani network involvement in the Indian Embassy bombing as well as the attempted assassination of [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai," said a senior U.S. official briefed on the reports. He said there was "significant" evidence suggesting that individual ISI members provided logistical support to the embassy bombers. He declined to elaborate further.

Pakistani officials today said there was no evidence of that the military intelligence service was involved in the bombing, according to an Associated Press report from Islamabad. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Sadiq described the allegation as "total rubbish," and government spokeswoman Sherry Rehman also said there was "no proof" of ISI involvement in the bombing. She did acknowledge, however, that some members of the intelligence service may be working against official policy.

CIA officials raised the issue of possible ISI support for the embassy bombers during a meeting last month between the newly elected Pakistani government and a delegation led by Stephen Kappes, the agency's director of clandestine operations, two officials said. The conclusion by U.S. intelligence and the visit were first reported by the New York Times.

One official involved with U.S. counterterrorism efforts stressed that the ISI has generally worked closely with U.S. intelligence in battling al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the tribal region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But he acknowledged that the Pakistani intelligence service is "not monolithic."

The intelligence community is divided about the extent of Taliban sympathies within the Pakistani service, a second senior official said. "You will find folks who will say there is significant penetration of the ISI by terrorist elements and that's a serious concern," the official said. "But others are saying that certainly, there's penetration, but we don't think it's top to bottom."

Pakistani officials have repeatedly denied the allegation of ISI support for the Taliban, though Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, who accompanied Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in a visit to Washington this week, acknowledged that his U.S. counterparts had aired serious concerns. Following their meetings this week, Gillani and President Bush sought to ease bilateral tensions over the conduct of the campaign against terrorism. Their talks focused on efforts to clamp down on al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists in Pakistan's northwest tribal areas.

Gillani secured a pledge from Bush to respect Pakistani sovereignty in exchange for promises from Islamabad to crack down on the militants. "This is our own war," Gillani said. "This is a war which is against Pakistan."

Pakistan, which has received more than $10 billion in U.S. aid since 2001, has resisted suggestions that troops from the United States or other countries be allowed into the region.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, when asked yesterday whether the ISI and the military were aligned with the Pakistani government, said it was a question "the government of Pakistan ought to speak to."

Mullen, who recently traveled to Pakistan, said the country's leaders made clear during talks that they recognized the tribal areas pose "a serious internal threat to Pakistan, and it's growing," and that they are "committed to taking steps to . . . address it."

U.S. concerns about Taliban support within the ISI's ranks date back nearly a decade. Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer with experience in the region, noted that the ISI was an early backer of the Taliban during the 1980s, at a time when they were allied in the fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Some ISI officers forged personal ties with Taliban commanders that persist today, he said.

Pakistan spy agency 'fiasco' derided

The timing could not have been more embarrassing for Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, in the United States for a meeting with President George W Bush on Monday that focused on Pakistan's role in the US-led war on terrorism.

Last week, Washington demanded Pakistan investigate Indian and Afghan accusations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was involved in a Kabul suicide bombing that killed 58 people outside the Indian embassy, including two diplomats.

Mr Gilani's four-month-old government has issued denials of ISI complicity but can say only what the spies and army divulge.

The United States and its Western allies have trusted the ISI to help combat Al Qaeda, but there have long been suspicions that it takes a permissive line over the Taliban, allowing the militants freedom to attack Afghanistan over the border.

There is mounting apprehension that Pakistan's generals are becoming less cooperative because the country fears Washington has allowed rival India to extend influence in Afghanistan.

With Pakistan in a fragile transition to democracy after President Pervez Musharraf's eight years of military rule, Washington has been talking to various parties in the nuclear-armed nation about closer coordination on security.

On Saturday night, while Mr Gilani was still en route to Washington, his government dropped a bombshell with a decree that the Interior Ministry would oversee spy agency activities.

The government said the ISI and its civilian counterpart, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), would be brought under the "administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect".

On Sunday, the government issued a clarification saying it had been "misinterpreted" and that the decree "only re-emphasises more coordination" between the ministry and the ISI on internal security matters.

It said another detailed decree would be issued later.

"I think the ISI immediately got into the act and did what they thought was best to have the decision reversed," said Najam Sethi, editor of the Daily Times newspaper.


Defence analyst Nasim Zehra said the Government's action had been "amateurish, thoughtless and hasty", though there was a good case for streamlining the security apparatus and drawing more rigorous reporting lines.

Newspaper editorials saw the chain of events as farcical.

"Is it mischief, conspiracy or stupidity?" said the Urdu language daily Nawa-i-Waqt, while the English language News newspaper referred to the saga as the "ISI fiasco".

Sethi's Daily Times noted that two previous prime ministers with solid parliamentary majorities and public support had tried and failed to cut the military down to size.

It offered words of caution to a weak coalition, already under pressure from political, economic and energy crises.

"Unless this move is for cosmetic purposes, Islamabad should tread with caution," said the newspaper.