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Pak hoodwinking Bush on Taliban pact: Report

A report in the Los Angeles Times says Musharraf has been misleading the world on the pact with pro-Taliban tribals on its border with Afghanistan.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 16:36 IST

Pakistan has been misleading the world on the agreement with the pro-Taliban tribals on its border with Afghanistan, "selling out" Washington's and Kabul's interests, Los Angeles Times said.

In a hard-hitting editorial this week, it asked President George W Bush's Administration and the new Congress to be on guard against President Pervez Musharraf's regime 'hedging' against President Hamid Karzai's government that Islamabad perceives as being "hostile and pro-India".

"If President Bush has any red lines left, he should be furious that Pakistan is legitimising the very Taliban it has pledged to eradicate.

It should come as no surprise, we should add that the Taliban has not kept its part of the bargain. Attacks have multiplied since the deal was signed," the newspaper said.

Karzai's fears about the September 5 agreement between the Pakistani authorities and the Taliban-friendly tribals in Northern Waziristan have proved right, judging from the increased attacks across the border, the LA Times says.

It quotes in support an expose by Jane's Intelligence Digest, published last week, about the continued, surreptitious role of Pakistan's powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in fomenting trouble against the Karzai regime.

Jane's has said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-sponsored Taliban training camps and jihadist madrassas (seminaries) have multiplied along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

The LA Times editorial came a day before the Karzai government rejected Pakistan's proposal that the entire Pakistan-Afghanistan border be fenced to prevent illegal cross-border movement.

Analysts have said that a fence on the volatile border on a difficult terrain is unworkable and the proposal is just a ruse by Islamabad to display its earnestness in fighting the Taliban.

LA Times has alleged that Musharraf sought to mislead the Bush administration on the agreement, saying that it was signed with the tribals.

"Perhaps he didn't expect his Western friends to read the agreement in the original Urdu," it observed.

The Bush administration has now studied the text of the agreement in original Urdu, something Islamabad might have not expected, to find out that the signatories on the other side were representatives of the "Talaba", a plural for the Arabic word "Taliban", which means students.

The pact had "sold out" the American and Afghan interests to the Taliban, the editorial said.

Referring to last week's operations in Bajaur Agency, the newspaper says that Musharraf had "tried to make amends" by ordering air strikes on one Taliban-run madrassa that killed at least 82 people last week, triggering angry protests against the US.

"But it will take far more to persuade the American public and Congress of the wisdom of providing Pakistan with $3 billion in military and other aid each year while Pakistani territory, tribal or not, gives sanctuary to Taliban fighters who kill US and NATO soldiers and destabilise the Afghan government," the editorial said.

A day after the agreement was signed, Musharraf paid a high-profile visit to Kabul to 'sell' the agreement and asking Karzai to have similar agreements with tribals on the Afghan side.

Totally unconvinced, Karzai protested and complained to Bush, compelling the US president to get the two squabbling neighbours to meet over a dinner hosted.

Both agreed to cooperate, but did not shake hands for the media, reflecting mutual distrust and tension.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 13:41 IST