Sydney, Aug 12 : If a senior Pakistan journalist is to be believed, US President George Bush has given a royal snub to his old time "anti-terror ally" and Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf, by repeatedly failing to respond to the latter's phone calls over the past few days.
Bush's 'ignoring' attitude is said to be the result of American strategists' warning that Pakistan's intensifying political power struggle was 'imperilling' the US-led war against al-Qa'ida and the Taliban.
According to The Australian, the US also fears that the ongoing power struggle (between Musharraf and coalition Government) could prevent Pakistan's civilian Government from moving against militants hiding in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and even jeopardise vital US' military supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan.
Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan's best-informed journalists, has mentioned in one of his reports Musharraf had "failed to get an answer" when he had tried repeatedly over the past few days to ring Bush - in the hope the US President might pressure the coalition in Islamabad to back away from impeachment, said the Australian daily.
But, added the paper, there were also enough signs that Washington was not abandoning Musharraf completely, with US diplomats calling several times on PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, apparently seeking assurances from him that once removed from office Musharraf would be allowed to live securely within the country, or given safe passage abroad.
Lisa Curtis, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said: "There are elements within the US administration who would be very nervous about Musharraf leaving the scene, as they think the civilians are not in control of the Army and the ISI."
That Musharraf is isolated could be gauged from the fact that as the National Assembly convened yesterday to begin the impeachment process against him, only 14 of 54 MPs from the PML(Q), on which Musharraf relies for political backing, turned up for a vital pre-session meeting in Islamabad.
In a further blow, 26 PML (Q) members supported a no-confidence motion against their patron in the Punjabi provincial assembly.