NATO to intervene in Pakistan?

Hundreds of Islamic militants armed with mortars and rocket-launchers overran a fort at Sararogha, in Pakistan’s tribal borderlands Jan. 15, killing some 20 paramilitary troops of the South Waziristan Scouts and taking several more captive. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) issued a statement that it had carried out the attack. (NYT, Jan. 17) The following day, Canadian opposition leader Stephane Dion called for NATO “intervention” in Pakistan if President Pervez Musharraf’s government failed to stop the cross-border flow of militants into Afghanistan. After a two-day visit to Afghanistan, Liberal Party leader Dion said: “We are going to have to discuss that very actively if they are not able to deal with it on their own. We could consider that option with the NATO forces in order to help Pakistan help us pacify Afghanistan.” (Pakistan Daily Times, Jan. 18)

Afghan authorities charge Pakistan-based figures linked to the Taliban were behind the Jan. 14 attack on Kabul’s Serena Hotel, in which seven were killed. Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, named Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran warlord in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia/Paktika provinces who collaborated with both the Mujahedeen and the Taliban and is now said to be hiding in Pakistan. Saleh said the attack had been overseen by agents of “the Haqqani network” in the Pakistan border city of Miranshah (North Waziristan). (The Guardian, Jan. 15) In the attack on Kabul’s most popular luxury hotel, gunmen threw grenades and fired AK-47s, while another militant blew himself up. The gunmen targeted foreigners, who cowered in the hotel’s gym. One American and a Norwegian journalist were among the dead. (AP, Jan. 17)

On Jan. 17, a militant blew himself up at a Shi’ite mosque in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar, killing at least three and injuring 20. The blast comes as Pakistan’s minority Shi’ites prepare to mark the Ashura festival, which in previous years has been marred by sectarian violence. (AP, Jan. 17)

On Jan. 14, a bomb hidden under a fruit cart detonated among shoppers at a market in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi during evening at rush hour, killing at least 10 and wounding 45, four critically. The blast coincided with a visit to Karachi by President Musharraf. (NYT, Jan. 15)

See our last posts on Pakistan and Afghanistan.