Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wire: US Offensive in Southern Afghanistan Puts Pakistani Military on Alert

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2009 -- Newswire services this afternoon reported that as thousands of U.S. Marines push deep inside Taliban territory in southern Afghanistan, Pakistani officials worry that fleeing insurgents will cross the porous border, putting more pressure on the army as it wages its own campaign to rid Pakistan of Islamic extremists.

The U.S push in southern Afghanistan is not aimed at directly attacking the Taliban insurgency. Rather, once Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villages, they have been instructed to occupy outposts among the local population, which could have the effect of displacing insurgents.

The issue of how such an occupation would impact Pakistan was already on the minds of some top U.S. policy makers.

The top U.S. envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, was very public about his concerns regarding the possible influx of Islamic fighters into Pakistan during a visit to Islamabad last month.

"We are concerned that there may be some spillover effect, as there was in the past," he said. "I've raised it repeatedly in Washington and here [Pakistan] and in Kabul. I don't want to be an alarmist here."

Just hours after the announcement of "Operation Khanjar," the Pakistani military deployed soldiers to the porous border in southern Baluchistan, directly across from Helmand.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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