August 4, 2009, 2009
Asia Times

US's $1bn Islamabad Home Is Its Castle

by Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - The ambitious US$1 billion plan of the United States to expand its presence in Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad underscores Washington's resolve to consolidate its presence in the region, particularly in pursuit of the endgame in the "war on terror". . . .

The fortress-like embassy will eventually accommodate close to 1,000 additional personnel being sent to Islamabad as part of the US administration's decision to significantly raise its profile in the country. The new staffers will augment the current 750-strong American contingent already based in Pakistan; this against a sanctioned strength of 350.

"What appears to be more alarming is that this staff surge will include 350 [US] marines. Additionally, the Americans are pressuring Islamabad to allow the import of hundreds of Dyncorp armored personnel carriers," reported Pakistan's largest English-language daily Dawn.

. . . since the last few months of 2008, the Americans have quietly been working on extending their physical footprint in the country.

During this period, about 300 American officials landed at Tarbella, the brigade headquarters of Pakistan's Special Operation Task Force approximately 20 kilometers from Islamabad. They were officially designated as a "training advisory group", according to documents seen by Asia Times Online.

Investigations by Asia Times Online indicate that this was no simple training program. According to sources directly handling the project, the US bought a huge plot of land at Tarbella, several square kilometers. Twenty large containers were then sent there. They were handled by the Americans, who did not allow any Pakistani officials to inspect them. Given the size of the containers, sources familiar with such shipments believe they carried special arms and ammunition and even possibly tanks and armored vehicles - and certainly nothing to do with any training program.

These developments at Tarbella and now the bigger facility in the heart of Islamabad are reminiscent of American policy in the Middle East, where the Jordanian capital of Amman was turned into a hub for the US's handling of Iraq, Syria and Palestine. . . .


"Pakistan's Attack on Swat: Fallout From The Energy Wars," The Wisdom Fund, May 7, 2009

"Afghan Leaders Demand Timetable for U.S. Withdrawal," The Wisdom Fund, May 21, 2009

"Energy Wars: The Destabilization of Baluchistan," The Wisdom Fund, July 12, 2009

Kirsty Walker, "Afghan War Could Last 'For Decades'," Daily Mail, August 3, 2009

[ . . . 67 per cent say they oppose US military operations on Pakistani soil.--Owen Fay, "US 'biggest' threat, say Pakistanis,", August 9, 2009]

back button