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Assault to get Osama in Pamir

Most of these Russian troops, now inching to Pamir, are fluent in Pushto. While, many have the working knowledge of Dari, the spoken Persian of Afghanistan. ... the British still need to use the air space of Pakistan for taking on the Taliban in south Afghanistan.
Jang News (on line)
Friday October 05, 2001-- Rajab 17,1422 A.H

Assault to get Osama in Pamir has begun
By Nusrat Javeed

ISLAMABAD: Many Islamabad-based diplomats seriously believe that after the Russian decision to let its ground forces be used for an assault on Osama bin Laden's possible hide-outs in the heights of Pamir mountains, "Washington will perhaps not be very keen to get Pakistan strategically involved in its war against terrorism."

Through calculated and very timely leaks, they point out, "the American public is now being told the tragedy of September 11 could be averted, if Islamabad had allowed the launch of get-Osama operation in 1999."

Through Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal which led to the disgraceful fall of Richard Nixon, Washington Post reported only the other day that around sixty Pakistani commandos were trained and equipped to enter Afghanistan for capturing Osama that year. The plan was approved by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. "But it was aborted on October 12, 1999 when Sharif was overthrown by Gen Pervez Musharraf, who refused to continue the operation."

The News has already reported that the US and its allied forces are giving enough credence to reports that Osama and around 200 of his diehard followers have dug themselves in for a deadly show down at the heights of Pamir Mountain.

To reach Osama's suspected hide-outs, advance parties of US commandos had already begun crawling from a launching site in Tajikistan since last Thursday. Russians had pointed at the suspected hide-outs and provided route maps to some sites, which were used for storing the nuclear tipped missiles by the former USSR during the culminating years of the cold war at the heights of Pamir. Their ground forces refused to join crawling to the said sites, however.

But on Sunday, September 23, Bush telephoned the Russian president and spoke to him. "The world we live in had radically changed in strategic terms," a European diplomat told The News, "right from the moment both men hung up. The two arch rivals, who faced off against each other for half a century with nuclear weapons, have now become allies. And, this is going to influence the world in a big way." Our sources claim that immediately after the Bush-Putin talk, latest models of anti-terrorist equipment were hastily delivered to Russia by the USA. After around a week of getting familiar with these weapons, the troops of Tajikistan-based 201st Motorized Rifle Division of Russia joined the Delta and Seal commandos of the USA, who already had crossed into the Afghan territory for reaching the heights of Pamir.

Most of these Russian troops, now inching to Pamir, are fluent in Pushto. While, many have the working knowledge of Dari, the spoken Persian of Afghanistan. The defence analysts of some Islamabad-based diplomatic missions believe that "after locating the potential hide-outs of Osama and getting the Russians on board for getting him, Washington may not ask any concrete military help from Islamabad for reaching the Saudi millionaire and his outfit, Al-Qaeda." Yet, the British would still need to use the air space of Pakistan for taking on the Taliban in south Afghanistan. "The anti-terror alliance," our sources claim, "has split its task into two parts. The Americans and Russians will go for bin Laden and his Al Qaeda force in Pamir, while the UK and Western allies will take on the Taliban in South Afghanistan."

The British Prime Minister could be coming to Pakistan for discussing the nitty-gritty of this side of the operation, which is to be launched from Oman. Royal Marine Commandos of UK are already present in that Gulf country in a huge number. With the use of 500 Abrams tanks, they are going through the drills of a pre-planned exercise.

"Russia's joining in the war on terrorism," many defence and foreign policy experts told The News, "has brought a huge paradigm shift vis-a-vis the strategic realities, at least in our part of the world."

During the Afghan Jihad, they recalled, Pakistan was the one and only "front line state" which the US and its allies used to defeat their communist adversaries. "In part two of the Afghan-related drama, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are taking the lead positions on the strategic epicentre, thanks to US-Russia understanding. Pakistan and Turkey are still there, no doubt. But they make the second line."

The new development also sidelines Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, who has been working overtime to forge a "global anti-terror coalition". But he could not build one, which was required to pre-empt the feeling as if by going after Osama and its protectors amongst the Taliban with a vengeance, the (Christian) USA was unleashing the "clash of civilization" with the Muslim world.

The coalition, sought by Powell, could not take off. Primarily, because of a strong position taken by Prince Abdullah, who virtually rules Saudi Arabia since the ailment of King Fahd.

He refused to allow the USA to strike 'Muslim Afghanistan' from the military bases in the desert kingdom. His stance compelled the rest of the important Arab countries to remain somewhat distant from the US declared war on terrorism. And, the US President had to give in to hawks in his administration. Dick Cheney, the vice-president; Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary; Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary and national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice are powerful members of the group which demand "avenging the American pride" with a ruthless and hasty attack on Osama and his protectors in Afghanistan.

Bush preferred listening to his secretary of state till late last week. Colin Powell couldn't deliver in the end, though. And, the USA has reached Central Asia for a very long term engagement.

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