Thursday, September 4, 2008
U.S. must have deal with new Pakistan leadership
This week's attack by U.S. Special Forces on a suspected al-Qaida stronghold in Pakistan could signal the start of a new phase in the war on terror and may explain why the United States acquiesced in the resignation of Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf, who was backed by U.S. President Bush as a key ally in the war on terror, had long refused to allow U.S. forces to operate in Pakistan, fearing a popular backlash that could destabilize the nuclear-armed country. But the United States, which has worked behind the scenes to promote Pakistan's new majority government headed by the Pakistan People's Party, must have gotten the green light from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani or PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari before proceeding with the attack. U.S. officials have long complained about Musharraf's refusal to allow U.S. forces to attack inside the country, since they believe Pakistan has not been aggressive enough in battling al-Qaida and suspect that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is hiding on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Of course, if the Bush administration has not cleared its new aggressiveness with Pakistan's new civilian leadership, the U.S. attack could have severe consequences for this country's efforts in the Muslim world.