“A top al Qaeda commander has called on Pakistanis to rise up against the government of the nuclear-armed power where Taliban militants are fighting the army, according to a message on Islamist websites on Thursday,” Reuters is reporting.
“The 29-page article by Abu Yahya al-Libi, who is thought to be in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was dated mid-March. Pakistan’s army has been trying to fight back al Qaeda’s Taliban allies who have taken control of areas close to the capital Islamabad in north Pakistan.”
“Muslims in Pakistan, and especially their clerics, should prepare themselves and rise up to perform the duty … of fighting the Pakistani army and the rest of the apparatus that are the pillars of their tyrannical state,” al-Libi wrote.
“The criminals in the Pakistani government and its army have not only been a cover for the occupying crusader infidels in Afghanistan, they have directly helped them in committing all their crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere,” he said.
Over the last two days Pakistani troops have made progress in their advance against Taliban forces northwest of Islamabad. According to the Associated Press, “Security forces backed by artillery and warplanes began pushing into Buner, a district just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Islamabad, on Tuesday after Taliban militants from the neighboring Swat Valley infiltrated the area under cover of a peace pact. On Thursday, troops ousted militants from the Ambela Pass leading over the mountains into Buner and were inching toward the north, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.” (Related coverage new this afternoon from the New York Times.)
Far to the South, ethnic violence broke out earlier today in Karachi, Pakistan’s financial capital. Thirty-four are reported killed, and many more injured, in clashes between speakers of Urdu and Pashto. (More from the BBC.)
During his Wednesday night news conference, President Obama characterized Pakistan as “very fragile.” (More from Bloomberg) Fox News is reporting that Gen. David Petreaus, Commander of the US Central Command, perceives that the next two weeks are critical to Pakistan’s survival.
President Obama is scheduled to meet with President Zardari of Pakistan and President Karzai of Afghanistan next week at the White House. The Washington Post reports that the summit will focus mostly on how do reverse the unraveling of Pakistan.