Published October 29, 2009
The Obama administration has reportedly rushed hundreds of millions of dollars in arms, equipment and high-tech sensors to Pakistani forces in recent months to support military operations in Taliban-controlled areas along the border with Afghanistan.
The New York Times, citing senior U.S. and Pakistani officials, reports that Obama personally intervened at the request of Pakistan's top army general to quicken the delivery of 10 Mi-17 troop transport helicopters. Senior Pentagon officials have also rushed spare parts for Cobra helicopter gunships, night vision goggles, body armor and eavesdropping equipment to the region, the New York Times reports.
American military surveillance drones are also supplying video images to Pakistani ground commanders, the New York Times reports, and Pentagon officials have supplied the Pakistani Air Force with infrared sensors for F-16 warplanes to lead bombing assaults on militant strongholds in South Waziristan.
The massive military buildup comes as President Obama considers sending tens of thousands more American soldiers to war in neighboring Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, a car bomb killed at least 100 people and wounded more than 200 others in northwestern Pakistan, indicating that drastic action will be needed to combat terrorism throughout the region -- not just in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are winding up their deadliest month since the war began eight years ago.
Wednesday's marketplace bombing was the third in Peshawar this month by Taliban forces who seek to undercut support for the Pakistani army and expose the weakness of the Pakistani government. The combined death toll from the three blasts is 250 people.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, visiting the country for the first time as America's chief diplomat when the attack occurred, and she pledged the U.S. will support Pakistan in its ongoing campaign against militants.
Pakistan is currently struggling against "tenacious and brutal extremist groups," Clinton told reporters Wednesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "I want you to know this fight is not Pakistan's alone. ... These extremists are committed to destroying what is dear to us as much as they are committed to destroying that which is dear to you and to all people. So this is our struggle as well."
"The events in Pakistan demonstrate the lengths extremists will go to and the type of threat they pose not just for this country, but for the country of Pakistan as well," he said.
Wednesday's bombing was part of a "real campaign" by extremists to demonstrate that they're a "force that can strike at any time and any place," said Gabe Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
"The war has been in Pakistan for some time," Schoenfeld told Foxnews.com Wednesday. "The Taliban and Al Qaeda are heading for any point that's weak. This is their pushback, an attempt to try and destabilize Pakistan before they're crushed.
"It's a very critical moment. If the Pakistani military can deprive them of a safe haven, they can make it much more difficult for them to operate."
But, he said, the Pakistani authorities so far "cannot stop them."
"The Pakistani government needs to snuff this out and will require pressing hard against the Taliban and their safe haven," he said.