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Pak says no to US demand

world Updated: May 13, 2011 23:45 IST
Jane Perlez, New York Times
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Despite mounting pressure from the US since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, seems unlikely to respond to American demands to root out other militant leaders, according to people who have met with him in the last 10 days.

While the general does not want to abandon the alliance completely, he is more likely to pursue a strategy of decreasing Pakistan’s reliance on the United States, and continuing to offer just enough cooperation to keep the billions of dollars in American aid flowing, said a confidant of the general who has spoken with him recently.

Such a response is certain to test American officials, who are more mistrustful of Pakistan than ever.

Emboldened by the May 2 raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan, US officials say they now have greater leverage to force Pakistani cooperation in hunting down Taliban and Qaeda leaders so the United States can end the war in Afghanistan.

To take out the leadership of these groups — longtime assets of the Pakistani Army and intelligence services — would result in such a severe backlash from the militants that a “civil war” in Pakistan would result, said a former senior Pakistani official on condition of anonymity.

Pakistani officials, meanwhile, are anxiously waiting to see if any new intelligence about al Qaeda in Pakistan spills from the American raid that could be used to exert more pressure on them, and what form that pressure might take.

The general, who has been courted for nearly three years by the United States’ most senior military officers in an effort to persuade him to launch an attack against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, was even more unlikely to do so now, the former Pakistani official said.