Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari stated on Monday that Pakistan is succeeding in its fight against Islamic extremists. Since August, the United States has launched at least 18 missile strikes on militant targets from unmanned drones killing innocent civilians and angering local Pakistanis.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan 14 people were killed on Sunday after US coalition forces fired on their car. A US military spokesman, alleged the men were militants who opened fire on approaching soldiers after their car had been stopped. A claim disputed by the provincial governor who stated the men were civilian workers and not militants. IPS journalist Anand Gopal believes “that both countries are moving backwards.”
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Pakistan and Afghanistan
Producer: Zaa Nkweta
ZAA NKWETA (VOICEOVER), TRNN: Pakistani President Asif Zardari stated that Pakistan is succeeding in its fight against Islamic extremists.
ASIF ALI ZARDARI, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: From where it was when we took over, it’s really in a much better place. But to say that it’s gone away and it has diminished totally, I wouldn’t say that–that’s not possible.
REPORTER: When you say “better place,” what do you mean, exactly?
ZARDARI: That we’ve improved the situation comparatively, whereby they had a free hand and they could roam around without check—that’s not there.
NKWETA: Since August, the United States has launched at least 18 missile strikes on militant targets from unmanned drones, killing innocent civilians. IPS journalist Anand Gopal believes the situation is getting worse.
ANAND GOPAL, JOURNALIST, INTER PRESS SERVICE: I don’t think the situation’s really improved that much in Pakistan. There’s a war going on in Bajaur, which is one of the tribal agency provinces on the border of Afghanistan, in which hundreds of people have been killed. There’s been no sort of culmination to this war, and it’s been going on for some months now. At the same time, in the southern parts of the tribal areas, in the region called Waziristan, the Pakistani government is negotiating peace deals with the Taliban and with the militants, which is essentially the same situation as we had before. And in these areas, when the peace deal was being negotiated, Taliban militants are able to roam and move freely, and also able to cross the border into Afghanistan, which is exactly what he said is not happening. However, these sorts of peace deals that are happening are reverting the situation back to what it was before.
NKWETA: Meanwhile in Afghanistan 14 people were killed on Sunday after US coalition forces fired on their car. A US military spokesman alleged the men were militants who opened fire on approaching soldiers after their car had been stopped, a claim disputed by the provincial governor, who stated the men were civilian workers and not militants. According to Anand Gopal, the incident further illustrates the ineffectiveness of the Karzai government.
GOPAL: One of the reasons why Hamid Karzai is not in control and has very little credibility is because the central government is seen by most Afghans as being corrupt and ineffective and unable to protect them from various security threats. I think we’re moving backwards in both cases, because what you’re having in both cases is the Taliban insurgency’s growing. And the reason the Taliban is growing is because of, on both sides, civilian casualties. There’s been a lack of development, and the tribal areas in Pakistan are extremely underdeveloped. There’s very little chance of social mobility for people who live there, and Islamic extremism is a very attractive option for them. And this isn’t something that’s changed; this isn’t something that’s gotten better; it’s only gotten worse. And it’s the same in Afghanistan: in large parts of the country, there’s no jobs and very little law and order, except in areas which the Taliban controls. So, really, in the last couple of years, they’re moving backwards in both countries.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.