Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The view from Pakistan: what capture? what advance?

Some pushback on U.S. government and media narratives from Pakistani media:

From Dawn:
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday branded as “propaganda” reports that the top Taliban military commander had been arrested in a joint Pakistani-US spy operation.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament in Islamabad, the cabinet minister stopped short of either confirming or denying the media reports.

The New York Times and other US media cited US government officials as saying that US and Pakistani intelligence services arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi “several days ago”.

“We are verifying all those we have arrested. If there is any big target, I will show the nation,” Malik said.

“If the New York Times gives information, it is not a divine truth, it can be wrong. We have joint intelligence sharing and no joint investigation, nor joint raids,” Malik added.

“We are a sovereign state and hence will not allow anybody to come and do any operation. And we will not allow that. So this (report) is propaganda,” he added. 
And from Daily Times:

Taliban allow US troops very little advancement in Marjah

MARJAH: Sniper teams attacked US Marines and Afghan troops across the Taliban haven of Marjah, as several gunbattles erupted on Monday, the third day of a major offensive to seize the extremists’ southern heartland.

Multiple firefights broke out in different neighbourhoods as US and Afghan forces worked to clear out pockets of Taliban and push slowly beyond parts of the town that they have gained control of. With gunfire coming from several directions all day long, troops managed to advance only 500 metres deeper as they fought off small squads of Taliban snipers.

“There’s still a good bit of the land still to be cleared,” said Capt Abraham Sipe, a Marine spokesman. “We’re moving at a very deliberative pace,” he added.

However, the mission faced a setback on Sunday when two US rockets slammed into a home outside Marjah, killing 12 civilians.
 Interesting that the Marjah narrative is cobbled together from official U.S. and Afghan government sources.

Contrast the New York Times accounts here and here. A  prior "view from Pakistan" here.

UPDATE: The Taliban is now denying that  Baradar was captured, the Times reports:
Reached by cellphone, the spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that Mullah Baradar was not under arrest. “He is safe and free, and he is in Afghanistan,” he claimed.

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