US President George W. Bush will meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today in an effort to press Islamabad to take a tougher stance against Pakistani-based Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters, who launch attacks against Afghanistan.
Bush says he was "troubled" by the movement of extremists from Pakistan to Afghanistan and would discuss the threat with Gilani, who is making his first White House visit since he took over the helm in
Gilani is well aware of the stakes for the trip, which comes amid mounting fears that the US is prepared to launch military "hot pursuit" raids into Pakistan’s troubled tribal belt in pursuit of so called extremists.
Gilani told reporters It is in the interest of Pakistan to curb extremism and terrorism. But he will be under pressure to explain his government’s counterterrorism strategy — or, as some experts see, the lack of one.
Lisa Curtis, a former State Department advisor and ex-CIA analyst says "she thinks Gilani has his work cut out for him in terms of explaining how his government intends to get a handle on this problem, which is not only a Pakistani problem but a problem for the international community as well".
She added that Bush would seek an explanation of how Pakistan was dealing with the "burgeoning terrorist safe haven," now extending into settled areas of the North-West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.
Curtis now with The Washington-based Heritage Foundation says they have not seen a real focused (counterterrorism) strategy by the new government — a strategy that the US has confidence in, Curtis thinks the fighters are the ones who are gaining from whatever Pakistan is pursuing at the moment.
Some see Gilani’s fledgling democratic government as powerless to act against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, which regrouped inside Pakistan after they were expelled from Afghanistan by the US-led invasion in 2001.
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