Magazine article Insight on the News

Is the United States Preparing to Strike Bin Laden?

Magazine article Insight on the News

Is the United States Preparing to Strike Bin Laden?

Article excerpt

Reliable Pakistani sources have told news alert/that the U.S. government actively is pressuring the Pakistani government to provide a platform for a direct U.S. assault on the Afghanistan base of the Islamist leader, Osama bin Laden, where he is protected by the Taleban government. During the last few weeks, the sources say, U.S. officials have been covertly canvassing elite figures in Pakistan one-on-one, trying to build support for a plan that would include both aerial bombardment and special-forces assaults on the ground. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government is dithering: To go along with the U.S. plan would mean the probable collapse of Sharif's government and the downfall of the ruling party, but not to go along with it might mean the cutoff of international aid that sustains Pakistan's finances.

Sharif's political support already is shaky as a result of his signing an extraordinary "Joint Declaration" between Pakistan and the United States during his urgent visit to Washington in August. After the standoff between Pakistan and India over the disputed Kargil region in Kashmir, both the military and the Islamist militants thought that the Kashmiri fighters (supported by Pakistan) had won a military victory of sorts. Perched in the mountains about 9,000 feet above sea level, Kargil commands a position above the Srinagar-Leh road, the main lifeline of Indian supply. The Indians were unable to dislodge the Kashmiri fighters from the heights. …

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