Washington, Sept 23 : After last Saturday's devastating suicide attack on a five-star hotel in Islamabad killing 60 people, US intelligence officials have said that Pakistan was in a "downward security spiral", as militants were taking advantage of a new civilian government in exploiting the growing anti-American sentiment in the country.
They said that the Pakistan government was caught in a dilemma, as their inaction was giving al Qaeda "power", and if they react too forcefully it could generate a "backlash from the people".
Jeffrey Addicott, director for the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary´s University in San Antonio, said "Pakistan is in the midst of a serious security crisis and the government is faced with a dilemma in which both inaction and a military crackdown pose serious risks. The Pakistani government's inaction has given al Qaeda power, but if the government reacts too forcefully, they could also get a backlash from the people."
"They are in some ways caught between the two unsure choices, but if they do nothing, as they have been doing, al Qaeda will only gain more strength. It is an unfortunate crisis that is leaving both our nations in danger and allowing al Qaeda to flourish," the Washington Times quoted Addicott as saying.
Last week, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden had said that al Qaeda and its affiliates pose the "most serious threat" to the US' security and present more risk of using weapons of mass destruction than Iran or North Korea.
According to the paper, the security situation in Pakistan had been deteriorating since the assassination last year of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Pervez Musharraf has been forced from the military leadership and the presidency, and a new civilian president and prime minister have taken office in recent months.