New Pak Govt. must guard against heavy-handed US approach on extremist threats

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Washington, Apr.1 :Washington may have to walk a bit of a tightrope in Pakistan in view of the new administrative dispensation expressing its reluctance to give the United States a carte blanche on dealing with suspected al Qaeda and Taliban elements in the remote tribal areas of the country.

In article for the Washington-based Council on Forein Relations (CFR), Jayashree Bajoria quotes experts as unanimously saying Islamabad's new leaders have asserted that the decision-making process will now involve more than one man (Musharraf), implying Washington will have to broaden its regular contacts within Pakistan beyond the latter.

According to Bajoria, a report in the Washington Post says Washington wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al-Qaeda's network inside Pakistan before the new government puts a stop to U.S. air strikes.

But she quotes CFR's Daniel Markey as cautioning against any heavy-handed U.S. approach to the extremist threat.

"The last thing we ultimately want to do is alienate the Pakistanis for short-term benefits. Killing another top-level [extremist] leader is probably not worth losing the relationship with Pakistan as a partner," Bajoria quotes Markey, as saying further.

According to Bajoria, experts say a shift in Pakistan's counterterrorism strategy could be worrisome for Washington at a time when militants from Pakistan's tribal areas continue to feed instability across the border, posing challenges to the NATO alliance in Afghanistan (NPR).

Some have questioned Pakistan's willingness to fight this war, she adds.

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