[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?
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