The Sunday act of terrorism in the Protestant church in Islamabad resulting in numerous deaths, has changed the relations between the USA and Pakistan. Washington is going to take up Pakistan’s domestic problems more seriously. At least, the US leadership realizes that Pervez Musharraf will not be able to cope independently with the terrorism in the country.
There is an obvious reason for participation of the US troops in the struggle with Islamic radicals. Remains of the Talibs and al Qaeda militants actively use the Pakistani territory as a shelter from attacks of the US and allied forces. Moreover, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is really very vague, it is clearly defined on the maps only. General Tommy Franks, the chief of the US central command, suggested that the Pakistani president should allow the US army to participate in the operations against the Talibs on Pakistan’s territory. Some sources inform, up to five thousand Taliban and al Qaeda militants may be present on the territory of Pakistan. And the militants are not going to give up the struggle. Any military operations are to be held with obligatory participation of Pakistani army because several important conditions do exist for it. First of all, if US troops carry out independent military operations, hails of discontent may arise in the country. It is to be mentioned here, the population is not fond of the Americans. Second, participation of the Pakistani army in the anti-Taliban operations will make for calming down of the Indian-Pakistani conflict. At least, the Pakistani military command will be not so much concentrated on the conflict, when involved in the anti-Taliban operations.
All the arguments mentioned above are purely theoretical so far. President Musharraf is not eager to allow the US troops to military operations on the Pakistani territories. He is apprehensive of a war to be waged by Islamic extremist organizations against the government. The Pakistani president hardly manages to contain the radicals now. And it is not necessarily that the central government will lose control over the situation, when the US army provides its assistance to the operation.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/22/38599.html