'Pak will allow US strikes only to hit Osama'

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{image-gi lani_05072008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Washington, Jul 5 : Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is learnt to have made up his mind to tell US President George Bush, when he meets him on July 28, that Islamabad will allow a US incursion into FATA only if it was directed specifically against al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden or his deputy Ayman Al Zawahiri.

According to a report published in the Time magazine, Gilani will also tell Bush that Pakistan would not allow incursions into its territory for any other al Qaeda or Taliban leaders.

"If they do a raid and they find No. 3 or No. 4 or No. 5 but don't get Bin Laden, it's going to be a real problem," the report quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying.

While such incursions could destabilise the Pakistani government, 'risking Pakistan instability may be the only way' for President Bush to get the two top al Qaeda leaders before he completed his second and final term later this year, the Dawn quoted the Time report as saying.

US counter-terrorism officials told the magazine that the best hope for nabbing Qaeda's No. 1 and No. 2 might lie in the capture of second-tier al Qaeda commanders who knew where their bosses were hiding. The magazine also quoted a recent CIA report speculating that Bin Laden had long-term kidney disease and might have only months to live.

The Pentagon has already sent an official request to President Bush asking him to sign an 'executive order' to expand its authority to go after terrorist leaders hiding in FATA, the report said.

The Pentagon's request for cross-border strikes from Afghanistan into Pakistan was awaiting consideration by President Bush and his top advisers, the report said and added some in the Bush administration, however, are reluctant to cross that line for fear of destabilising Pakistan's recently elected government.

The Bush administration limited cross-border operations when Pervez Musharraf was in charge in Islamabad, on the grounds that they might undermine the authority of a key ally in the war on terrorism. The report said that it was a 'difficult decision' for President Bush to ake. "If Bush signs the execute order, he will be increasing the risk that faulty intelligence could produce tragic mistakes " and public relations disasters " like the US air strike on June 10 that killed 11 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers near the Afghan border, causing explosive outrage nationwide," said the report.

ANI

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