Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Pakistan frets about U.S. attack


Pakistani soldier near the Pakistan-Afghan borderSpeculation the United States is preparing to send commandos into Pakistan’s tribal areas to hunt down al Qaeda and Taliban militants is gathering momentum.  Pakistani fears of a U.S. attack were reinforced by a surprise visit to Pakistan this weekend by the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, in which he was reported to have expressed U.S. frustration that Islamabad was not doing enough to tackle militants on its border with Afghanistan.

The Daily Times says in an article from Washington that Mullen had been expected to ”read the riot act” to the government. It quoted an unnamed ”well-informed source” as saying that U.S. patience was close to running out.  When it did, the paper said, there would be  unilateral US military action, both covert and overt, in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

File photo of Osama bin LadenDawn quotes a senior Pakistani official  as saying that while the ”possibility” of direct American military action in the tribal areas was always there, now the “probability” has suddenly increased. It says President George W. Bush might want to be able to tell the American public before he leaves office that Osama bin Laden or one of his top lieutenants had been captured or killed.

And the Houston Chronicle last week quoted three Texas congressmen briefed during a trip to the region as saying that American commandos are poised to stage “hot pursuit” raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas to stem mounting Taliban attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and to disrupt efforts by al Qaeda to plan strikes against the United States.