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Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tougher Stance on Pakistan Took Months

U.S. Believes Its Harsher Tone Got Musharraf Moving Against Terrorists

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page A01

"....The July 17 U.S. claim sparked outrage in Islamabad but helped yield the result that U.S. officials sought. Musharraf abandoned his truce with tribal leaders and on July 19 formally launched a military offensive aimed at breaking the terrorists' grip on the frontier provinces.

The events leading to the public confrontation with Pakistan -- including the alarming evidence of al-Qaeda and Taliban retrenchment in northern Pakistan -- were described in new detail by more than a half-dozen senior administration and intelligence officials. None would talk about the subject on the record, citing the sensitivity of the bilateral relationship and the political fallout from the intelligence assessment.

Pakistani officials say the change in tactics had nothing to do with U.S. pressure, and they insist that Musharraf's plan for using tribal militias to drive out al-Qaeda remains viable. "We are as committed to defeating terrorism as the United States is, because the threat to us is far greater," Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, said in an interview.

But U.S. officials say Musharraf's new offensive is already having a more tangible impact than months of diplomacy and subtle pressure on tribal chieftains and mullahs in remote villages. After a spike in terrorists' cross-border raids into Afghanistan over the past year -- including a doubling of the number of attacks in June compared with the previous year -- violence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border leveled off last month."

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