Monday, February 23, 2004

Pakistani tribesmen are turning on Al-Qaeda 

ISLAMABAD : Pakistani tribesmen in the rugged semi-autonomous region bordering Afghanistan have handed over dozens of people suspected of sheltering Al-Qaeda militants, a government official said.

Threatened by the prospect of a large-scale Pakistan military offensive to seize the suspects, tribal elders bowed to pressure and presented authorities with the Al-Qaeda sympathisers.

The Pakistanis are desperate to keep America on their side but out of their country. That is Musharraf's only way to keep us from siding with India strategically, and the Islamicists at bay. See my post from last night.

The U.S. understands that Pakistan is the fulcrum for many reasons (not just because Bin Laden is probably there), which is why George Tenet was there earlier this month, undoubtedly turning up the heat. The Financial Times says that he was there to "share information" about Al-Qaeda's presence in Pakistan, but Tenet didn't have to travel there to give Musharraf a couple of factoids. He must have gone there to deliver a more explicit message outlining the benefits of being America's ally, and the burdens of being its enemy.

As has been clear for a month, Pakistan is the next theater of this war. TigerHawk is going to go out on a limb here: if General Musharraf survives (a non-trivial "if"), we will have Bin Laden before summer.


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