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Terrorism & Security

U.S. military strike in Pakistan kills Al Qaeda weapons expert

The attack has raised concerns in Pakistan about the United States' increased willingness to take unilateral action in the war on terror.

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If true, the US's willingness to take unilateral action is part of a growing pattern that is causing a rift between Pakistani and American officials, reports The Daily Times, another Pakistani newspaper.

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Repeated United States missile strikes in Pakistan can harm relations between the two countries, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid told a visiting US commander on Monday. "Expressing concern over repeated cross-border missile attacks/firing by coalition and Afghan forces, General Tariq said that our sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected," an [Inter-Services Public Relations] statement quoted Tariq as telling Acting CENTCOM chief Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey. "Any violation in this regard could be detrimental to bilateral relations," it added.

The strike came as Mr. Bush met for the first time with Pakistan's new Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Pakistan's civilian government, which was elected in February through democratic elections, has struggled in its first 100 days of office to form a counter-terrorism strategy that appeases both its citizens and the West, according to an opinion piece in The Daily Times.

[The elected governments in Islamabad and Peshawar] are going through a learning process and their socialisation with the realities of world politics and a comprehension of the security situation on the border may take some time. It is difficult to say whether they will stick to the template they inherited from Pervez Musharraf or redefine Pakistan's strategic partnership with US.

Earlier this month, The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Pakistani government was opting for a two-pronged approach to tackle militancy in the region.

"What we have is a government in which there is still no consensus" on how to deal with the militants, says Ansar Abbasi, an editor with The News, a national English daily. "The new government couldn't possibly have followed [President Pervez] Musharraf's game plan," he says, so it is now simultaneously offering the olive branch and wielding the stick....
The Army ... is not being given clear instructions or a mandate from the government, which seems to lack direction in the face of a multifaceted challenge.

For now, the government has taken the controversial tack of negotiating with Taliban militants who reside on the country's border with Afghanistan. But Washington says that negotiations have allowed the Taliban and Al Qaeda to regroup, The New York Times reports.

Senior American officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just three days ago, publicly scolded Pakistan for not doing more to root out safe havens like the one bombed on Monday in Azam Warsak, a village in South Waziristan near the Afghan border.

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