A message to Musharraf

NY Times:

President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces became far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.

The decision came after the White House concluded that General Musharraf is failing to live up to commitments he made to Mr. Bush during a visit here in September. General Musharraf insisted then, both in private and public, that a peace deal he struck with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would not diminish the hunt for the leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban or their training camps.

Now, American intelligence officials have concluded that the terrorist infrastructure is being rebuilt, and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has flagged.

“He’s made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working,” one senior administration official who deals often with Southeast Asia issues said late last week. “The message we’re sending to him now is that the only thing that matters is results.”

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General Musharraf has told American officials that Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas in recent years so alienated locals that they no longer provide the central government with quality intelligence about the movements of senior Islamic militants.

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Most major al Qaeda plots originate or are controlled from this area of Pakistan. The message to Musharraf is that if he does not assert control in this area we and our allies will. If he permits the terrorist to operate from this area he is in direct violation of the Bush doctrine and protecting those responsible for 9-11. It is time to bring their act to an end.

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