US demands tougher Pakistan action

Cheney presses Musharraf to do more against Taliban in surprise visit to Islamabad.

    Musharraf, right, assured Cheney that Pakistan
    was doing its best to combat militancy [EPA]

    US intelligence agencies say al-Qaeda camps have regrouped along the Pakistan-Afghan border.
    US and Afghan officials say fighters gather and train in Pakistan before crossing over the porous border to launch attacks in Afghanistan.
    But Musharraf told Cheney that Pakistan "has done the maximum in the fight against terrorism" and that "joint efforts were needed for achieving the desired objectives", a statement from his office said.
    Tough message
    American intelligence officials believe fighters are rebuilding infrastructure and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has waned.
    US Democrats who now control Congress have urged the White House to put greater pressure on Pakistan.
    And a senior Bush administration official told Pakistan to be more aggressive in hunting down the Taliban.
    "[Musharraf has] ... made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working," the New York Times quoted the unnamed official as saying.
    "The message that we are sending him now is that the only thing that matters is results."
    Behind the warnings is the threat to cut US aid, of which Pakistan is now the fifth-largest recipient.
    George Bush, the president, has proposed $785m in aid to Pakistan in his new budget, including $300m in military aid to help Pakistan combat Islamic extremism in the country.
    Echoing US criticism of Pakistan, Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, said Musharraf had not enough to block the Taliban from crossing its border into Afghanistan.
    "We will concede that the Pakistan situation remains a long-term problem and we do need better efforts from Pakistan on that problem, not just for the security of Afghanistan but for the security of the region," Harper said in Ottawa.
    Along with Britain, Canada provides the major combat support to US troops in Afghanistan.
    In Afganistan, Cheney met senior US military leaders to discuss future operations.
    A meeting with Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, scheduled for Monday, was postponed to Tuesday because of bad weather, officials said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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