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January 22, 2006
US To Pakistan: Either You Do It Or We Will

The US intends on sending Pakistani PM Shaukat Aziz back home with a message that should have been clear from the action two weeks ago in Damadola -- either Pakistan has to get serious about taking out al-Qaeda leadership or we will do the job ourselves, regardless of national borders:

US leaders are expected to call for more intensive efforts by Pakistan to flush out Osama bin Laden in meetings with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz here this week.

Believed hiding in northwestern Pakistan, Al-Qaeda chief bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri taunted
President George W. Bush last week in new messages, glorifying the terror network's bloody actions and warning of more to come. ...

Another US concern is the jump in suicide bombings and roadside blasts in
Afghanistan, attributed to an influx of foreign militants across the Pakistan border, said Strategic Forecasting Inc. (Stratfor), a private US intelligence firm.

"While Washington continues to get cooperation from Pakistan, it is always concerned about the quality of the cooperation and its longevity, if you will," said Kamran Bokhari, Stratfor's senior analyst for Middle East and South Asia.

Stratfor believes bin Laden and Zawahiri are in northwestern Pakistan.

"To the best of our understanding, our company places them somewhere in northwestern Pakistan, we don't even think they are in the tribal areas.

"How they have survived this long? Definitely, there is evidence to suggest that in certain quarters of the military and security apparatus, there are sympathisers," Bokhari said.

The partnership between Musharraf and the US has come at some cost to both parties. It has marginalized the democracy movement in Pakistan, which does not set well with those in the administration who see the promulgation of democracy as the Big Theme of the Bush presidency. It has made Musharraf a target for assassination twice with the Islamists and has made him unpopular with the border tribes that used to provide a first line of defense for Pakistan in the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It has also complicated our efforts to ally with India, a true democracy and an undervalued potential partner against Chinese expansionism.

However, the partnership has also paid dividends. The roundup of lower-level AQ recruits and destruction of their camps on both sides of the Pakistani/Afghan border has reduced the AQ threat significantly. Intelligence has improved in the region for both nations, and the partnership has allowed for better economic health for Pakistan and influence for the US.

We need to tread somewhat carefully, but in the end, our interests can only be served if the present Pakistani government understands the emphasis we place on the total destruction of al-Qaeda and its leadership. That message came through loud and clear in the roar of three Hellfire missiles at Damadola, announcing that the US had lost patience with the Pakistanis and their diffident cooperation. The message Aziz will take back to Musharraf will no doubt sound very similar, if more diplomatically couched.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 22, 2006 10:00 AM

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