The military effort to “advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life” is accelerating in both countries. It sounded good when President Obama said it at the White House:
We meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future. And to achieve that goal, we must deny them the space to threaten the Pakistani, Afghan, or American people. And we must also advance security and opportunity, so that Pakistanis and Afghans can pursue the promise of a better life.
. . .But we must also meet the threat of extremism with a positive program of growth and opportunity. And that’s why my administration is working with members of Congress to create opportunity zones to spark development. That’s why I’m proud that we’ve helped advance negotiations towards landmark transit-trade agreements to open Afghanistan and Pakistan borders to more commerce.
Within Afghanistan, we must help grow the economy, while developing alternatives to the drug trade by tapping the resilience and the ingenuity of the Afghan people. We must support free and open national elections later this fall, while helping to protect the hard-earned rights of all Afghans. And we must support the capacity of local governments and stand up to corruption that blocks progress
. . .we must stand with those who want to build Pakistan. And that is why I’ve asked Congress for sustained funding, to build schools and roads and hospitals. I want the Pakistani people to understand that America is not simply against terrorism — we are on the side of their hopes and their aspirations, because we know that the future of Pakistan must be determined by the talent, innovation, and intelligence of its people.
Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity
Witnesses say deaths of 147 people in three villages came after a sustained bombardment by American aircraft. Patrick Cockburn, in Herat, reports
Shouting “Death to America” and “Death to the Government”, thousands of Afghan villagers hurled stones at police yesterday as they vented their fury at American air strikes that local officials claim killed 147 civilians.
The riot started when people from three villages struck by US bombers in the early hours of Tuesday, brought 15 newly-discovered bodies in a truck to the house of the provincial governor. As the crowd pressed forward in Farah, police opened fire, wounding four protesters. Traders in the rest of Farah city, the capital of the province of the same name where the bombing took place, closed their shops, vowing they would not reopen them until there is an investigation.
Pakistanis flee Swat fighting
Pakistan’s army has ratcheted up pressure against the Taliban in the northeast of the country
A humanitarian crisis is looming in Pakistan as hundreds of thousands of civilians flee fighting between the Taliban and government troops in the country’s northwest.
Officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said that about half a million people have been displaced by the fighting in the Swat valley in the last few days.
Ariane Rummery, a spokeswoman for the UNCHR, told Al Jazeera that they had witnessed a “great many families arriving from Swat”.
“I was in one of three refugee camps that the UNHCR has helped set up and people were arriving on trucks, rickshaws, cars, buses – any way that they can travel – and they were arriving very, very distressed,” she said.
Government estimates suggest that 200,000 people have already fled. UNHCR officials said another 300,000 people were on the move or about to flee.
So much for advancing security and opportunity.
Don Bacon is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society several years ago because, as General Butler said, war is a racket. Other articles by Don Bacon may be found here and here.