September 25th, 2008
01:13 PM ET

It’s getting ugly in Pakistan

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.pakistan.marriott.jpg caption="Pakistani workers clean the debris from Marriott hotel following last week's suicide bomb explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan.]
Reza Sayah | BIO
CNN Islamabad Correspondent

It’s getting ugly in Pakistan.

Last week a massive suicide truck bomb killed more than 50 and destroyed the Islamabad Marriott. Extremists are getting more aggressive and sophisticated than ever. Instead of working together against militants, U.S. and Pakistani troops are firing shots and accusation at one another.

On Thursday the Pentagon said Pakistani troops opened fire on a U.S. chopper flying in Afghan airspace near the Pakistani border. The Pakistani Army said they fired at the chopper because it violated Pakistani airspace. The chopper fired back, they said. Washington and Islamabad are supposed to be partners in the fight against extremists. It doesn’t take a military genius to know partners don’t shoot at one another.

The Pentagon called the incident a misunderstanding, but what’s clear is escalating tension between Washington and Islamabad and rising anti-Americanism among average Pakistanis because of incidents like this.

Most Pakistanis says it’s not the partnership between Islamabad and Washington they mind. After all the U.S. has pumped in more than $10 billion in aid to Pakistan ever since 9/11. What they simply can’t stand these days are suspected U.S. cross border attacks without Pakistani permission.

Not a week seems to go by here in Pakistan without headlines about suspected U.S. missile strikes from unmanned drones that target militants, but sometimes kill civilians, in the tribal area along the Afghan border. The region is widely believed to be home to Al Qaeda camps and Washington wants to hit them hard. The U.S. likes using these flying robots because they’re designed to kill their target without jeopardizing a pilot.

Washington generally denies using drones over Pakistan but the denials are getting tougher. This week the Pakistan Army said they found wreckage of a drone on Pakistani soil. Earlier this month Washington acknowledged a cross border ground assault. Now the Pakistani Army says U.S. choppers have violated their airspace.

Islamabad based analysts say Pakistan won’t be able to effectively fight extremists until the U.S. stops unilateral cross border attacks. They say militants use the attacks to fan the flames of extremism and depict the Pakistani government as lackeys of Washington who deserve to be punished. Pakistan’s government keeps calling for the attacks to stop and has even threatened to defend its soil. The suspected cross border attacks have not stopped. The result has been two so-called partners turning their guns on one another. I wonder what Al Qaeda is thinking.

Didn’t I tell you it’s getting ugly in Pakistan?

Filed under: Global 360° • Pakistan • Reza Sayah
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Wain

    More Pakistani soldiers have died at the Afghan border than the total number of casualties for all the 37 countries' troops fighting in Afghanistan. So save the crap about who is reluctant to fight the terrorists and who is not.

    September 25, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  2. Wain

    First off ...Paksitan didnt ask for the money. US used Pakistan. Pakistan is better off without US money anyways. Because I ll tell you what American money and millitary comes with. CIA operatives in Pakistan's political system. American army using Pakistani bases in Pehawar and Quetta. Highest levels of suicide attacks in the history of Pakistan in last 2 years.

    Yes, millitancy is a problem in Pakistan but it was not escalated to the level it is after the US involvement in the area. And Paksitan has never attacked, never threatened US or its allies. So please fight your so called pathetic war on terror by stopping the unilateral support of Israel and putting your troops at home to defend the US. Spare the innocent people in Pakistani tribal areas.

    "The U.S. likes using these flying robots because they’re designed to kill their target without jeopardizing a pilot." WoW that's great dont jeopardize a pilot but do take civilian lives where the robot bombs.

    Its just sickening. Unlike Americans who hear about terrorism in the News, pakistan is living it day in and day out, since America started its war on terror. So dont lecture the Pakistanis on terrorism and how to fix it. Noone from Paksitan was involved in 9/11. Then why Pakistan ?

    Being an American doesnot give you a right to bomb other countries with drones at will. This was a good story. CNN should bring more news from the ground hopefully it will let the US people understand the blows which other countries have to face due to the disastrous US foreign policies.

    September 25, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  3. Reena, Phoenix AZ

    Those people who think that we can do a better job trying to prevent such incidents in Pakistan are living in some parallel universe.

    Even a military dictatorship could not contain these elements, Al Qaeda is making a statement in it's last stronghold and taking advantage of the gap in power left by Musharaff's resignation. We cannot contain the problems in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now people want to get into Pakistan – are you out of your minds??

    The reason that Musharaff and his government received "aid" was because we did not want get in there in the first place, The terrain and the complexities of inter tribal forces is too great .

    Our ties with Pakistan have always been tenuous and 9/11 gave leverage to both side for some co operation in an otherwise unlikely partnership. $10 billion since 9/11 is a drop in the ocean compared to aid given to Egypt and Israel .

    Any aid the we, the US give to any country is only to further our own interests, and not any altruistic motives


    September 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  4. TS


    You can give another country aid but that DOES NOT entitle you to run the entire country. It DOES NOT entitle you to enter their airspace or cross their boundaries without permission.

    This is one of many, many reasons the rest of the world hates America and Americans.

    September 25, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  5. Lesli

    Great comments.

    Please remember the first combantants to shoot on our Canadian troops in Afghanastan were the US military who kiiled the first four Canadian casualties. Mistakes are made all of the time.

    September 25, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  6. Heather,Ca,US

    I agree with Cindy. Do they want more terrorist attacks like at the Marriott? If they do then I say good luck and we leave. Dont come crying to us because you have had enough when we are doing our job now. I wish them all the luck in the world with the terrorists they are going to need it. The gov is a joke. Publicly saying they will not allow us in their country to go kill terrorists and then any attack happens. Fine if that is what they want we should leave and take our money.

    September 25, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  7. Austin

    Wow! When is this going to ever end! This is absolutely scary! We can’t afford another dust-up in this part of the world as volatile as it is! What is it going to take to bring this endless violence to an end?

    September 25, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  8. Keith

    We need to work out some kind of agreement on a joint commitment of U.S. and Pakistan forces getting after the terrorists.

    September 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    If Pakistan wants us to stay out then they need to find and kill al Queda in that area near Afghanistan – then we wouldn't have a reason to cross over their border. As much aid as we give them they shouldn't have a problem doing that for their "ally". If they don't do the job themselves and threaten the US when we try to do it then aid should be shut off completely. We probably can't afford the aid anyway.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Well if Pakistan doesn't really want to get rid of the terrorists or let us, then we just need to keep the money we give them and spend it on our own citizens where it would do more good.

    They can't have it both ways. Taking our money yet not allowing us to even enter Pakistan to get terrorist is not cutting it. The US needs to step up and tell them that.


    September 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm |