Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canadian woman journalist Life in danger

PESHAWAR: Taliban militants holding the Canadian woman journalist, Khadija Abdul Qahaar, in North Waziristan tribal region Wednesday threatened to kill her if their demands were not met by the end of March.The Canadian government, it may be mentioned here, has reportedly refused to either negotiate with Taliban militants or pay them any ransom for the release of its national. Rather, it pledged to send its own security personnel to assist Pakistani law-enforcement agencies in their efforts for recovery of the aged lady journalist and her two Pakistani helpers. The Taliban demanded two million dollars for her release.She appealed to the Canadian embassy and human rights organisations to help in her release from militants’ captivity. The woman complained her life was in danger and the time was running out fast.In videotape released by suspected Taliban militants on Tuesday, the woman journalist feared her kidnappers could kill her if their demands were not accepted by the end of March. She has been videoed in a dark room with a dagger lying on the wall in the background. The woman pointed to the dagger on the wall and said the Taliban could behead her as they did with the Polish engineer.In a previous footage, which was released around the end of February, two militants carrying AK-47 assault rifles were shown standing behind the Canadian woman. On that occasion, she had pointed to two armed men and their assault rifles and said they could kill her if their demands were not accepted.“I am Khadija Abdul Qahaar. I am a convert to Islam. I am Canadian national and am currently being held by the Taliban in some place near the Afghan border, either in Pakistan or Afghanistan, I am not quite sure. I was captured by the Taliban four months. The previous video was made and distributed to my embassy and Pakistan government, NGOs and other organisations to try and meet the demands of the Taliban for my release.“Unfortunately, nothing has happened. Now I have been advised to make this new video. We have very short time now. I am going to be killed at any time as you can see the dagger. I am going to be beheaded like the Polish engineer probably by the end of month as their deadline is by the end of March that is I am not sure 18 days or 16 days, I am not sure.“The time is now very short and my life is going to end, so I need someone to help me, either the Pakistan government or my own country. Somebody will have to move now because my life is going to be over. I want to go home,” the 55-year-old lady said in the videotape, which was also made available to The News.It may be due to the long detention of the Canadian woman by Taliban militants, the aging woman seems emotional at end of the videotape as she said in a choke voice, “I have been in their captivity for a long time...its too long now and they are going to kill me like the Polish engineer. These people are serious, please help me. Please do something to help me. The responsibility of this will be on somebody shoulders. I haven’t done any thing wrong. The Taliban want their demands met. So I am pleading please help me and save my life,” the worried woman journalist implored.It is worth mentioning that the Canadian journalist was kidnapped on November 12, last year. She was on her way to Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, along with two other Pakistani nationals.One of them, Salman Khan was a student of chartered accountancy and she took him along as interpreter, while the other one, identified as Zar Mohammad, is a personal assistant of the woman journalist. Both of them were also kidnapped and are still missing.Sources told this correspondent that she was trying to visit a house at Janikhel area of FR Bannu, where five people, including a low-level al-Qaeda operative, were killed in first-ever missile attack in settled district of NWFP by the US drone.They had reportedly rented a car from a taxi stand in Bannu to take them to Janikhel in the FR Bannu and were kidnapped when they reached Sra Dargah area in Bannu. Taliban militants, often seen patrolling the Bannu-Miramshah road in their pick-up trucks, were noticed intercepting their car and dragging them out of the taxicab.They were reportedly bundled into a double-cabin truck that drove them away towards North Waziristan. The aged Canadian journalist had reportedly embraced Islam and was settled in Islamabad. In her previous videotape, the woman journalist was shown urging the two governments- Pakistan and Canada- to accept demands of her kidnappers so that they set her free.In the videotape, which was also provided to this correspondent, Khadija said she came to Pakistan first in early 2008 and then in July. She said in July she went to Bannu and met a man possessing old Islamic-era coins and wanted to sell. She got the coins and went back to London.However, second time when she came back to Bannu, Taliban kidnapped her and shifted to their hideout. “I wake up in the dark and I go to sleep in the dark and I am very, very sick,” she had complained in her previous videotape. Government officials said the Canadian government in a letter to the Pakistan government refused to either negotiate or pay any ransom to the kidnappers.Keeping in mind the gruesome beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak by the Darra Adamkhel-based Taliban on February 7, Pakistani officials are seriously worried about the life of the woman and are reportedly trying to find alternative means for a safe recovery of the Canadian citizen.

Pukhtunkhwa(NWFP)govt asks Swat judges not to attend courts over security concerns

PESHAWAR: The government on Wednesday directed the judges of subordinate judiciary of the Peshawar High Court in Swat not to attend courts and restrict themselves to their houses. The order came after a warning from Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad to the judges of Swat not to attend their courts A civil judge cum judicial magistrate in Swat told Daily Times on Wednesday that after Sufi’s warning, they had been directed by the provincial government and district administration not to attend courts due to security concerns. The judge, however, said most of the judges had started deciding cases of petty nature at their houses due to security reasons. The NWFP law minister reportedly said the subordinate judiciary of the provincial high court would continue hearing cases despite the appointment of qazis in sharia courts in Swat district. He said it was a misperception that judges could not decide cases under Islamic law, explaining that all the judges were working in Swat in accordance with sharia and could also decide cases under it.About the TNSM’s warning to the judges, the minister reportedly said the government would soon take Sufi into confidence regarding the subordinate judiciary if it had not done that already.A senior Peshawar High Court official told Daily Times that the high court had informed the provincial government about Sufi’s threat to the judges in Swat and the courts would stop working if the government gave orders to that effect.Sharia courts: Meanwhile, Islamic courts have started work in Swat, officials said on Wednesday. “Seven Qazis have started working in sharia courts in Swat,” regional commissioner Muhammad Javed said.“Nothing against sharia will be allowed,” he said. Courts began hearing cases under Islamic law on Tuesday, AFP reported. The judges, all qualified in Islamic law, were appointed in consultation with Sufi, who signed a peace deal with the government.

Russians warn of repeat of Afghan history

MOSCOW : The old diplomat sighed as he recalled his years in Afghanistan, and then he leaned forward and said in a booming voice that no escalation of troops would bring lasting peace. As the Soviet ambassador to Afghanistan from 1979 to 1986, Fikryat Tabeyev saw the numbers rise to more than 100,000 troops without any possibility of victory against a growing insurgency. Even with President Barack Obama's plan initially to send 17,000 more U.S. soldiers and Marines to that mountainous nation this year, the combined NATO-American force will be smaller than the Soviet contingent was, McClatchy Newspapers reported. Moscow's failure to pacify Afghanistan, which broke the back of the Soviet Union, doesn't mean the same fate awaits Obama's efforts, but ignoring a decade of experience there would be a mistake, former envoys and generals warn. The Soviets rumbled into Afghanistan in 1979 to rescue a weak communist regime, a very different reason from the U.S.-led invasion of 2001, which sought to deny the Sept. 11 terrorists a haven. The seven years of war since the U.S. intervention, though, look familiar to the Russians. Many challenges that bedeviled the Soviets confront the American operation today, the retired envoys and generals said. Among them are vicious tribal rivalries, a weak central government, radical Islamists, power-hungry warlords, incompetent or corrupt local military commanders, failing infrastructure and the complexity of fighting guerrilla groups. The former Advertisement officials also cautioned that trying to bring democracy to Afghanistan will be as fruitless as their attempts to install communism. "You may elect a parliament, you may invite parliamentary delegations from Afghanistan to visit Europe, but it means nothing," said Boris Pastukhov, whose service as Soviet ambassador began in 1989, the year the Red Army withdrew. "The decisions by parliament cannot be compared with the decisions of a jirga," a tribal council. Among the experts, there was gloating that the U.S. military is battling some of the same insurgents the CIA once funded to fight Moscow. All skated over the details of the brutal Soviet campaign to stomp out the Afghan resistance. However, they also seemed to voice genuine concern about the U.S. troop buildup. The Soviets also were convinced that superior numbers, firepower and training would make it possible to avoid the mistakes the British and others had committed stretching back to Alexander the Great, former Ambassador Tabeyev said. "History didn't listen to us," said Tabeyev, who's now 81. "All our efforts to restore peace in the country ... this was a flop in the end." The fundamental problem in Afghanistan is that it isn't a country in the way the West thinks of countries, said retired Lt. Gen. Ruslan Aushev, who did two tours there and left as a regimental commander. "There has never been any real centralized state in Afghanistan. There is no such nation as Afghanistan," said Aushev, a former president of the Russian Caucasus republic of Ingushetia who now heads a veterans group in Moscow. "There are (ethnic groups of) Pashtuns, Uzbeks and Tajiks, and they all have different tribal policies." As a result, any occupation force will spend much of its time propping up a government that has little relevance outside Kabul and trying to corral disparate ethnic groups and tribes into a national army that's often unwilling to fight, Aushev said. "We made the same mistake when we put the weak Babrak Karmal as the head of state," Aushev said of a former Afghan president. "He was so weak that no one obeyed him. He was hiding behind the backs of Soviet soldiers. ... Today the situation is the same; (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai is being protected by U.S. special forces." Retired Gen. Pavel Grachev, who spent two tours in Afghanistan, had a tone somewhere between disbelief and shock when he discussed Obama's troop buildup. "I believed as sincerely as American officers do now that we were fighting there to help make our country safer," said Grachev, who later became defense minister. "After the war, as a politician, I could see this war had been pointless." That said, Grachev offered some advice: Post soldiers to guard road projects and irrigation systems, and send in engineers, doctors, mining experts and construction advisers. Pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure would be a lot more productive than firefights in far-flung villages, he said. "You have to understand that in the economic sphere, Afghanistan is now at a stage lower than the Middle Ages," Grachev said.

Five killed in attack on Malakand university

TIMERGARA: Four policemen and a watchman of the University of Malakand were killed and three others suffered wounds when a group of armed miscreants attacked a police mobile van at the main entrance of the University of Malakand at Chakdara in the Lower Dir district at the wee hours of Wednesday, official sources and eyewitnesses told Dawn.

According to an injured watchman of the University a group of over hundred armed miscreants in the garb of Taliban entered the Varsity premises at 12:45am after beating the gatekeeper.

The attackers were demanding of the watchmen on gunpoint to hand them over all keys of the vehicles and administration block, sources said, adding that apparently they wanted to take away official vehicles along with them.

When the watchmen of the Varsity offered resistance they opened fire on them injuring two of them, identified as Farman and Khaliq Dad Khan.

When a police mobile van reached the scene the militants attacked it with a rocket launcher at the main entrance, sources in the university said. The police van caught fire and was totally destroyed. As a result three policemen, including ASI Azizullah, head constable Inayatullah and constable Adam Khan were killed on the spot while constable Nazir, the driver of the police van, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Peshawar on Wednesday.

Constables Rahmatullah, and Wahid Zaman who got bullet injuries are under treatment in Peshawar. Khaliq Dad, one of the injured watchmen, also succumbed to his injuries at the Batkhela hospital.

The injured were earlier rushed to DHQ hospital Batkhela where they were referred to Peshawar due their critical condition, official sources said.

The deceased personnel were buried in their ancestral graveyards with full official honour on Wednesday, eyewitnesses told Dawn.

The attackers took away two vehicles (coaches) of the University along with them, sources said, adding that after the attack on police mobile party they managed to escape from the scene.

The attackers came from Swat and returned there after committing the crime. The miscreants also left two of their pick ups at the venue.

The public relation officer (PRO) of the University of Malakand Dost Muhammad Khan told Dawn it was not clear what the motive behind the attack. The university’s vehicles might have been the target, he added. Police registered a case and started investigation.

Swat Taliban apprehend suspects

The Swat Taliban reportedly claimed to have arrested fourteen of the culprits in Shamozai area and recovered vehicles from their possession.

The Taliban, according to informed sources, handed over the vehicles to the Commissioner Malakand Division Syed Muhammad Javed who spent a busy day at Chakdara on Wednesday.

Official sources seemed reluctant to disclose the perpetrators of attack on the university, but the Taliban were quoted as saying to punish them in accordance with Islamic Shariah law.

Meanwhile, the Adenzai Qaumi Jirga in its meeting on Wednesday in Chakdara demanded of the government and concerned authorities to execute the ‘killers’ in public in accordance with the newly-established Nizam-i-Adl Regulation.

‘They should be publicly executed in accordance with Sharia law immediately so that no one could dare to commit such a heinous crime in future,’ the peace jirga suggested.

They said that some of the 14 attackers were reportedly arrested by Taliban and should be brought before the public so that their identity could be known to every one.

The jirga also demanded of the government to give category ‘A’ status to all the victim of the incident occurred in the University of Malakand. ‘We are committed to protect all of our national institutions at any cost and we will extend all our support to law enforcement agencies in this regard,’ the jirga pledged.

Commissioner Malakand division Syed Muhammad Javed told reporters in Chakdara that attackers of the Malakand University would be punished in accordance with Islamic Sharia.

He said the accused held by the Swat Taliban would be presented before the ‘Qazi’ of Barikot tehsil very soon and the people would come to know the nature of their penalty.

He confirmed that the Taliban had handed him over the vehicles taken away from the University of Malakand.

Sanam Bhutto rejects having differences with Zardari

LONDON: Sanam Bhutto rejected a report published on Thursday in a local newspaper alluding to her alleged differences with President Zardari as a total fabrication and a vicious attack on ‘me, my family and the memory of Benzir Bhutto Shaheed.’

Talking to the media here at the Pakistan High Commission, the sister of the late Benazir Bhutto said that she had made none of the statements attributed to her in the report.

‘There was no interview with Daphne Barak and each insinuation is a complete fabrication.’

She said she was ‘very angry’ as she began to read her statement.

The news report she was referring to was published on Wednesday. Quoting an identified source the report had referred to an interview given to a freelance journalist, Daphne Barak by Sanam Bhutto which the report further said would be released at some future date. The report had not carried any direct confirmation from Daphne herself about her purported interview with Sanam Bhutto.

Sanam said Barak was never a friend of Benazir Bhutto, ‘They met for an interview fifteen years ago. She knows nothing about my sister or about our family’s relationships. She is not, as suggested, in any way an insider of the Bhutto family on any issue.’

She further said that she was on excellent terms with President Zardari, ‘I have no property or financial issues with him as has been alleged in this article. Views attributed to my nephew Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are also a figment of the author’s imagination, clearly designed to damage our family and create a rift in the Pakistan Peoples Party.’

She further said Barak knew nothing about the events surrounding Benazir’s murder, ‘any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to exploit and ingratiate herself for her own purposes into what is a serious investigation by the UN of the assassination.’

She reiterated that the Bhutto family stood united with President Zardari at this critical juncture when the nation faces serious internal and external threats.

UN 'concerned' about kidnapped official in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan — The United Nations said Wednesday it was "very concerned" about the health of an American UN official kidnapped in Pakistan six weeks ago, and offered told direct talks with his abductors.
John Solecki, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, was snatched at gunpoint in Quetta on February 2. His driver was killed during the abduction.
An organisation claiming to hold Solecki, the Baluchistan Liberation United Front (BLUF), said in a statement to the private Online news agency Monday that they would kill him with in 48 hours if the government did not free more than 1,100 prisoners.
"We are very concerned about the apparent deterioration of John?s health, reported by the group holding him," the United Nations said.
"The United Nations is keen for John to receive immediate professional medical care in a clinic or hospital where the necessary medical tests can be carried out.
"John?s well-being is the responsibility of the group who is holding him and we hope they are taking steps to make sure John remains well and is not suffering.
"The UN is still willing to speak directly to those who have John, in the spirit of being ready to listen and to find a safe way to secure his release," the statement said.
BLUF spokesman Shahak Baloch told Online Monday that his group had given the government a list of 1,109 people and 141 women it wanted released but accused UN officials of not showing "seriousness."
"His condition is deteriorating, we are providing him every possible medical treatment, but it is making no difference," he said.
A security official said the US embassy, UNHCR and Pakistani officials were involved in "backdoor negotiations" with the abductors, but gave no details.
Major General Saleem Nawaz said the provincial government in Baluchistan had formed a committee to seek cooperation from any official or private person for Solecki's safe recovery

Russia announces rearmament plan

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, has ordered a large-scale rearmament of the country's military forces in response to Nato plans for expansion into former Soviet states.At a meeting with top defence ministry officials in Moscow on Tuesday, Medvedev said "a large-scale rearmament of the army and navy will begin" from 2011, adding that new forces must have the most modern weapons.The president said a modern army was needed to "tackle the most difficult problems, such as terrorism, and fend off potential military threats", stating that "attempts to expand the military infrastructure of Nato near the borders of our country are continuing".Russia has described proposals by Nato to allow Ukraine and Georgia membership to the bloc, and plans by the US to deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe, as direct threats to its national security.Medvedev said the top priority for modernisation would be upgrading Russia's nuclear weapons arsenal."The primary task is to increase the combat readiness of our forces. First of all, our strategic nuclear forces. They must be able to fulfil all the necessary tasks to ensure Russia's security," he said.
'Quick action'
Russia would go ahead with the plans despite being hit hard by the economic crisis, Medvedev said."We now have all the necessary conditions for that [modernisation of armed forces] despite the current financial difficulties," he said.Efforts to upgrade Russia's military have moved slowly in the past.Weaknesses in Russian forces, such as shortages of precision weapons and modern communications, were apparent during its conflict with Georgia in August last year."That conflict has revealed our flaws,'' Medvedev said, adding that "problems linked with supply of certain weapons and means of communication require a quick action".

Gunmen open fire at Lower Dir university, four killed

MINGORA, Pakistan – Dozens of gunmen opened fire at a university in a northwest Pakistan region near the Afghan border early Wednesday, killing three police officers and a security guard, authorities said.

The attack occurred in Lower Dir, which borders Pakistan's militant-plagued tribal regions and is near the Swat Valley, where the government recently agreed to impose Islamic law to strike a peace deal with the Taliban.

A top government official said Taliban fighters detained 14 of the suspected attackers in Swat later on Wednesday.

Local police official Pervez Rahim said the gunmen's identity was not clear, but that they fired upon police who were in a vehicle guarding the school. A university security guard was also shot and died on the spot, Rah said.

Dir lies next to the Bajur tribal region, where the Pakistani military recently declared victory over al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters after a months long offensive. There are concerns that militants under fire might have fled to safer areas.

The U.S. has pushed Pakistan to crack down on militants who use its soil as a base from which to plan attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns at the country's attempt to forge peace in Swat by agreeing to impose Islamic law. A cease-fire between the Taliban and the military in the valley struck in February appears to be holding.

Syed Mohammad Javed, a senior regional administrator, said Taliban fighters detained 14 of the alleged gunmen after they arrived in Swat, and that the men may have to face a newly established Islamic court in the valley.

He did not say why or how the Taliban managed to capture the suspects but promised more details later.

The military tried for more than a year to oust Taliban fighters from Swat, but the militants kept gaining sway, essentially setting up their own parallel administration in the lush region that once attracted legions of tourists.

The fighting killed hundreds and displaced up to one-third of the valley's 1.5 million people.

Karzai: Afghanistan is not a puppet state

KABUL (AP) — President Hamid Karzai warned the international community Wednesday to avoid meddling in governing Afghanistan as the country prepares to go to the polls to elect a new president later this year.
Speaking alongside NATO's secretary-general, Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that his government's foreign partners should respect and honor his country's independence.
"Afghanistan ... will never be a puppet state," Karzai said.
Karzai faces re-election in August, at a time when the country is embroiled in a vicious Taliban-led insurgency, and the performance of his government has been criticized by the incoming President Barack Obama's administration and other Western capitals as inefficient and corrupt.
As the new U.S. administration shifts the focus from the Iraq war to Afghanistan, Obama has also ordered a review of America's strategy in the region. The results of the review are expected later this month.
In response to a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, Obama has also ordered thousands of new troops to the country's south — the Taliban's heartland — this year and his administration has urged other NATO allies to do more.
Karzai said that he appreciates the work that the U.S. and other members of the international community have done so far in the fight against terrorism and the reconstruction of the country.
Karzai said that some in the international community are proposing that the power of the central government should be weakened, without explaining who are those behind such an idea.
"That is not their job," Karzai said.
"The issue of governance and the creation of (a mechanism for) good governance is the work of the Afghan people," Karzai said.
Karzai was responding to a question from an Afghan journalist who suggested that international forces operating in the provinces were trying to directly support local leaders there.
Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Afghanistan and Iraq, recently told The New York Times that he had warned the Obama administration that any attempts to focus on local areas at the expense of the central government risked being "regarded as hostile policy."
"Some will regard it as an effort to break up the Afghan state, which would be regarded as hostile policy," Khalilzad, who is an Afghan-American, told the newspaper in January.
Sticking to a populist tone Karzai said that the international community can only do its job with Afghan people's support.
"With Afghanistan there should be respect and honor, and we will also respect and honor our allies," Karzai said. "Afghanistan now is the owner of its land and nobody can disrupt our country," he said.
A reminder of the conflict happened earlier in the day when a roadside blast in the capital hit a civilian vehicle, wounding three people.
The bomb went off as the vehicle passed a gas station in western Kabul, the Interior Ministry said, without providing further details.
Taliban militants regularly use roadside bombs to attack Afghan and foreign troops in the country but the majority of the victims are civilians.

U.S. Weighs Taliban Strike Into Pakistan

WASHINGTON — President Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the American covert war in Pakistan far beyond the unruly tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.

According to senior administration officials, two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for broadening the target area to include a major insurgent sanctuary in and around the city of Quetta.

Mullah Muhammad Omar, who led the Taliban government that was ousted in the American-led invasion in 2001, has operated with near impunity out of the region for years, along with many of his deputies.

The extensive missile strikes being carried out by Central Intelligence Agency-operated drones have until now been limited to the tribal areas, and have never been extended into Baluchistan, a sprawling province that is under the authority of the central government, and which abuts the parts of southern Afghanistan where recent fighting has been the fiercest. Fear remains within the American government that extending the raids would worsen tensions. Pakistan complains that the strikes violate its sovereignty.

But some American officials say the missile strikes in the tribal areas have forced some leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to flee south toward Quetta, making them more vulnerable. In separate reports, groups led by both Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan, have recommended expanding American operations outside the tribal areas if Pakistan cannot root out the strengthening insurgency.

Many of Mr. Obama’s advisers are also urging him to sustain orders issued last summer by President George W. Bush to continue Predator drone attacks against a wider range of targets in the tribal areas. They also are recommending preserving the option to conduct cross-border ground actions, using C.I.A. and Special Operations commandos, as was done in September. Mr. Bush’s orders also named as targets a wide variety of insurgents seeking to topple Pakistan’s government. Mr. Obama has said little in public about how broadly he wants to pursue those groups.

A spokesman for the National Security Council, Mike Hammer, declined to provide details, saying, “We’re still working hard to finalize the review on Afghanistan and Pakistan that the president requested.”

No other officials would talk on the record about the issue, citing the administration’s continuing internal deliberations and the politically volatile nature of strikes into Pakistani territory.

“It is fair to say that there is wide agreement to sustain and continue these covert programs,” said one senior administration official. “One of the foundations on which the recommendations to the president will be based is that we’ve got to sustain the disruption of the safe havens.”

Mr. Obama’s top national security advisers, known as the Principals Committee, met Tuesday to begin debating all aspects of Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy. Senior administration officials say Mr. Obama has made no decisions, but is expected to do so in coming days after hearing the advice of that group.

Any expansion of the war is bound to upset those in Mr. Obama’s party who worry that he is sinking further into a lengthy conflict in Afghanistan, even while reducing forces in Iraq. It is possible that the decisions about covert actions will never be publicly announced.

Several administration and military officials stressed that they continued to prod the Pakistani military to take the lead in a more aggressive campaign to root out Taliban and Qaeda fighters who are attacking American forces in Afghanistan and increasingly destabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan.

But with Pakistan consumed by political turmoil, fear of financial collapse and a spreading insurgency, American officials say they have few illusions that the United States will be able to rely on Pakistan’s own forces. However, each strike by Predators or ground forces reverberates in Pakistan, and Mr. Obama will be weighing that cost.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on “The Charlie Rose Show” on PBS last week that the White House strategy review addresses the “safe haven in Pakistan — making sure that Afghanistan doesn’t provide a capability in the long run or an environment in which Al Qaeda could return or the Taliban could return.” But another senior official cautioned that “with the targets now spreading, an expanding U.S. role inside Pakistan may be more than anyone there can stomach.”

As part of the same set of decisions, according to senior civilian and military officials familiar with the internal White House debate, Mr. Obama will have to choose from among a range of options for future American commitments to Afghanistan.

His core decision may be whether to scale back American ambitions there to simply assure it does not become a sanctuary for terrorists. “We are taking this back to a fundamental question,” a senior diplomat involved in the discussions said. “Can you ever get a central government in Afghanistan to a point where it can exercise control over the country? That was the problem Bush never really confronted.”

A second option, officials say, is to significantly boost the American commitment to train Afghan troops, with Americans taking on the Taliban with increasing help from the Afghan military. President Bush pursued versions of that strategy, but the training always took longer and proved less successful than plans called for.

A third option would involve devoting full American and NATO resources to a large-scale counterinsurgency effort. But Mr. Obama would be bound to face considerable opposition within NATO, whose leaders he will meet with early next month in Strasbourg, France. At the very time the United States is seeking to expand its presence in Afghanistan, many of the allies are scheduled to leave.

As for American strikes on militant havens inside Pakistan, administration officials say the Predator and Reaper attacks in the tribal areas have been effective at killing 9 of Al Qaeda’s top 20 leaders, and the aerial campaign was recently expanded to focus on the Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, as well as his fighters and training camps. American intelligence officials say that many top Taliban commanders remain in hiding in and around Quetta, but some Afghan officials say that other senior Taliban leaders have fled to the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Missile strikes or American commando raids in the city of Quetta or the teeming Afghan settlements and refugee camps around the city and near the Afghan border would carry high risks of civilian casualties, American officials acknowledge.