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Terror trails put Musharraf in a 'bind'

Prez is reportedly in a tight spot over a series of terror attacks with Pak links.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 15:29 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The series of planned terrorist attacks with links to Pakistan has put its President Pervez Musharraf in the most "serious political binds" of his nearly seven-year tenure, a media report said on Friday.

There are also simmering concerns in Washington following the rise in the number of terror strikes with links to Pakistan and sharp increase in cross border Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, it said.

These have prompted a renewed debate within the Defence Department about Pakistan, the New York Times said quoting two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The paper quotes a Western diplomat in Pakistan as saying, "Musharraf is in a weaker position than he has been in the past, no doubt about it. There are constraints on him."

"Nearly five years after the September 11 turned Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf into one of Washington's most indispensable allies, he finds himself squeezed from many directions leading to one of the most serious political binds of his nearly seven-year tenure," the paper said.

Those whom the paper spoke to said that in particular, the sharply rising American casualty rate in Afghanistan had increased scepticism among some American military officers about the Pakistani intelligence service's efforts to rein in the Taliban.

"There is an increasing view in the United States that Pakistan isn't very helpful," one researcher involved in the debate, told the paper, referring to frustration among some officers.

"There are people who are really thinking twice about this relationship with Pakistan."

But in Washington, the paper says the official view remains strongly supportive. Richard A Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, credited Musharraf with having kept his promise to "break" with the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies.

But Boucher admitted that the Taliban have reorganised inside Pakistan but said, Musharraf's government is trying to gain control of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"They've closed some camps; they've outlawed some groups," he said in an interview with the Times.

"You have to understand how deeply rooted extremism is in Pakistan. Of the general's cooperation with Washington "I think we've seen plenty. We certainly work with Musharraf."

However, Afghanistan and India, the paper says, have been "nipping" at the general's heels for not doing enough to crack down on militants who they say export violence to their respective countries.

Religious radical groups continue to operate, including those that have links with banned terrorist outfits, the report notes.

They continue to be implicated in investigations of terrorism suspects half a world away, most recently the group Jamaat ud Dawa in the London airplane bombing plot.

Even Musharraf's promise to reform radical madrassas, as Islamic religious schools are called, has yet to be fulfilled, the paper said.

First Published: Aug 18, 2006 13:38 IST