Pakistan tested by battles with Al Qaeda, Taliban
The US pursuit of Al Qaeda with airstrikes complicates Pakistan's struggle against the Taliban, who launched their largest attack in months over the weekend.
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"We hear these claims every few months and there's rarely ever any follow-up," says Khalid Rahman at the Institute for Policy Studies, who also says he is skeptical of the authenticity of military claims from the tribal areas. According to military reports, a similar drone attack in November killed the alleged Al Qaeda mastermind of a 2006 airplane bombing plot, as well as an Egyptian Al Qaeda operative.Skip to next paragraph
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For many Pakistanis, says Mr. Rahman, such news is "pointless" considering the worsening militancy at home. "Unless we see actual gains, how can we keep supporting American airstrikes?" he asks.
The news of the latest Al Qaeda casualties came the day that Vice President-elect Senator Joe Biden arrived in Pakistan. Local media also reported that the Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani raised the issue of drone attacks with Mr. Biden.
In November last year the Pakistani prime minister had expressed hope that the new US administration would reconsider its tactics. "I am sure when the government of Senator Obama is set up, these attacks will be controlled," he told lawmakers referring to the drone attacks.
Government officials have consistently condemned American drone attacks at home but done little more than lodge occasional complaints with the Americans. This has led to wide speculation that there is an unofficial understanding between the two governments that allows drone attacks to continue.
But former President Pervez Musharraf, under whose rule these air incursions into Pakistan began, said this weekend that there was never any such understanding between Pakistan and the US in his rule.
"Pakistan has done more than anyone else in the war against terror," he said before boarding a plane on his way to the United States. "The United States should not ask us to do more," he said.
"If the Americans could start focusing more on ways to help Pakistan fight the Pakistani Taliban," the larger fight against militancy and terrorism in the region might be more successful, says Hassan Askari Rizvi, former professor of Pakistan Studies at Columbia University in New York.