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Act Fast On Terror Dens, US Warns Pak

The Obama administration has delivered new and stiff warnings to Pakistan after the failed Times Square car bombing that it must urgently move against the nexus of Islamic militancy in the country's lawless tribal regions,
PTI May 10, 2010 14:56 IST
PTI
The Obama administration has delivered new and stiff warnings to Pakistan after the failed Times Square car bombing that it must urgently move against the nexus of Islamic militancy in the country's lawless tribal regions, American and Pakistani officials said.

The American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, met with the Pakistani military chief, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, at his headquarters here on Friday and urged Pakistan to move more quickly in beginning a military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida in North Waziristan, Americans and Pakistanis familiar with the visit said.

The Pakistani-American man who admitted to the Times Square attack, Faisal Shahzad, 30, told American investigators that he had received training in North Waziristan, the main base for the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida and other militant groups.

The new pressure from Washington was characterized by both the Pakistani and American officials as a sharp turnaround from the relatively polite encouragement adopted by the Obama administration in recent months. And it comes amid increasing debate within the administration about how to expand the American military's influence — and even a boots-on-the-ground presence — on Pakistani soil.

Though the bombing in Times Square failed, Shahzad's ability to move back and forth between the United States and Pakistan has heightened fears in the Obama administration that another attempt at a terrorist attack could succeed.

“We are saying, ‘Sorry, if there is a successful attack, we will have to act' ” within Pakistan, one of the American officials said.

That issue has been a source of growing tension between the countries. Pakistani officials, already alarmed by the increase in American drone aircraft attacks against militants in northwestern Pakistan, have been extremely sensitive about any hint that American ground troops could become involved in the fight. And attempts by the United States to increase the presence of Special Operations forces there even in an advisory or training role have been met with great resistance by the Pakistanis.

The Americans' urgency has been increasing on multiple fronts. With an intensified American military campaign raging against the Taliban next door in Afghanistan, and now with the renewed evidence of Pakistani sources for plots to attack on American soil, it was clear the Pakistani government had to do more, and more urgently, a senior American official said on Saturday.

Kayani, with whom McChrystal has forged a positive relationship, was essentially told, “‘You can't pretend any longer that this is not going on,'” another US official said. “‘You've got to go into North Waziristan.'”