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Goes with the terrortory

"Goes with the terrortory" Continued...

Issue: "Dating and courtship confusion," June 4, 2011

His successor, President Asif Ali Zardari (who was elected when his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated by militants U.S. and Pakistani authorities believe were linked to al-Qaeda), told the BBC in a September 2009 interview that he believed bin Laden was dead-though he offered no evidence to support his claim. Interior Minister Rehman Malik suggested to U.S. officials that bin Laden was in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or Iran. And when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in late 2009 pressed for Pakistani agents to capture bin Laden, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani balked: "I doubt the information you are giving is correct because I don't think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan."

U.S. officials long insisted that bin Laden was alive in Pakistan-though they believed him to be in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas rather than in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). But bin Laden had history in NWFP, having established al-Qaeda in Peshawar, the provincial capital, in 1988. He and other Arab fighters from that time forward regularly crossed the border from Peshawar to Jalalabad and Nuristan Province in Afghanistan-areas that continue to be hotbeds of terrorism and Taliban resurgence.

In the short-term the United States must press Pakistan harder to police its border and to eliminate safe havens for terrorists, said former National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones. But Jones warned against punishing Pakistan and said that post-bin Laden tension in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship should instead be treated as "a pivot point to bring about reconciliation." Pakistan, he said, "deserves its share of credit" for capturing key al-Qaeda leaders and the United States "cannot risk the strategic consequences of a failed state in Pakistan."

But Americans are plainly weary of pumping aid-more than $20 billion since 2001-to a country that's not clearly on their side. Pakistan is currently the third-largest recipient of U.S. humanitarian and military aid, behind Israel and Afghanistan. But the fiscal year 2011 request, if granted, would move it just ahead of Israel to second place.

At the May 17 hearing where Jones testified, there was bipartisan frustration from members of the panel over aiding a country that's been sheltering America's No. 1 enemy. "Most of us are wanting to call time out on aid until we can ascertain what is in our best interest," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons went further, accusing Pakistan of playing a "double game" by taking U.S. aid and helping terrorists: "They are both fireman and arsonist in a regional conflagration."

It's a game neither Pakistan nor the United States can afford not to play, perhaps, but without uprooting more terrorist sanctuaries the current situation leaves many, including Pakistan's Christians, vulnerable.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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