Pakistan's prime minister broaches Taliban peace
Newly elected Yousaf Raza Gillani's announcement may cause rift with US.
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These proposed changes come as the director of the CIA warned over the weekend that Al Qaeda has "established a safe haven in the tribal areas near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan," reports Voice of America.Skip to next paragraph
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The CIA Director, Air Force General Michael Hayden, says if there were another terrorist attack against the United States, it would almost certainly originate from that region.
"What I can tell you about is the situation along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which presents a clear and present danger to Afghanistan, to Pakistan, and to the West in general and to the United States in particular," said Michael Hayden.
Pakistan last year faced record levels of violence: more than 800 people were killed in a series of suicide bombings. Washington is so deeply worried that it has stepped up controversial air strikes against militant targets inside Pakistan, according to The Washington Post.
The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan's new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials.
Washington is worried that pro-Western President Pervez Musharraf, who has generally supported the U.S. strikes, will almost certainly have reduced powers in the months ahead, and so it wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al-Qaeda's network now, the officials said.
Over the past two months, U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft are known to have struck at least three sites used by al-Qaeda operatives. The moves followed a tacit understanding with Musharraf and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani that allows U.S. strikes on foreign fighters operating in Pakistan, but not against the Pakistani Taliban, the officials said.
The divergent policies are leading to a rift between Pakistan and Washington. Last week, government officials in Islamabad sharply rebuked visiting US envoy Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Richard A. Boucher, assistant secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, according to Dawn. Particularly outspoken was Nawaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the second largest party in the new government.
"Pakistan wants to see peace in every country, including the US. However, to ensure peace in other countries, we cannot turn our own country into killing fields," Mr Sharif said in categorical terms.