As US troops enter the fight, the Taliban stand defiant and tens of thousands of armed Moslims revolt in Pakistan.
Armed US troops enter the active war arena, a British general liases with the Northern Alliance, who are becoming impatient at the lack of effectiveness of the air strikes, while the Taliban refuse aid from Pakistani Pashtun because it is not needed. Mass demonstrations in Pakistan give way to armed revolt by tens of thousands of Islamic fundamentalists.
For the first time, it has been confirmed by the Northern Alliance (opposition to Taleban forces) that US troops are on active military duty in northern Afghanistan. It is claimed that around ten US troops armed with automatic weapons have entered the arena in Darae Suf, according to Mohammed Ashraf Nadim, spokesperson for commander Mohammed Atta, of the Northern Alliance. “We have regular meetings with the United States troops” he declared, as he confirmed that the Northern alliance is three days away from a major offensive against Mashar-i-Sharif, a key strategic position in the central northern sector of the country.
Despite this, the Northern Alliance have declared that they are becoming impatient at the lack of success of the air strikes because, rather than the front line remaining static, Taliban successes have been reported in recent days. The Taliban themselves have declined to allow ten thousand armed Pakistani sympathisers into the country because, as it is claimed, their help is not needed because they are only facing attacks from the air. These, they claim, are producing virtually no results.
However, the case of the armed Mujaheddin may be different, as thousands of armed and experienced mountain fighters from Chechnya, Bosnia and Albania flock to join the Taliban. Terrorists are terrorists. Worrying for the anti-Taleban alliance will be the reactions within Pakistan which now surpass the 10,000 limit and take on more serious proportions. Apart from the ten thousand armed volunteers massing along the Afghani border, another heavily armed group has cut the strategic Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and China. They claim that this will only be opened when Pervez Musharraf resigns. “Any friend of America is a traitor”, read the banners they raise, inflamed at the deaths of 30 Pakistani civilians in raids over Kabul, according to local press reports.
As the US Commander in Chief, Tommy Franks, arrives in Pakistan for consultations with the President, General Pervez Musharraf, a spokesperson for the ten thousand armed Jihad warriors massing along the border (Mohammed Khaled) speaks in ominous tones: “These are difficult times for Moslems. We are being put to the test." Two million refugees are massing on the same frontier, but are heading in the other direction. The question is that Pakistan already has 3 million refugees from Afghanistan, which it can ill afford and a further influx will tip the scales. President Musharraf stated in a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok “There will be socio-economic problems."
Not only in Pakistan is the atmosphere becoming strained. An unnamed US Senator for the Republican Party has spoken out: “They (the administration) constructed a confident attitude, that everything would be solved quickly. They underestimated the Taliban. They thought the Afghan people were so tired of religious extremism that they would rise up against them. But the Taliban have a strong spirit."
On this point, Francois Heisbourg, president of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, declares, “I cannot say who has the strategic initiative in this conflict. Basically, it is about learning the hard way. It begins to appear that they bomb and bomb again, because they do not know what else to do."
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL