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Thursday, July 14, 2005

IHT: Little Incentive to Nab Bin Laden

Ahmed Rashid in the International Herald Tribune:

Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss have said they know where bin Laden is and that he is not in Afghanistan - implying he is in Pakistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Kabul who is now the U.S envoy in Baghdad, has been more blunt and said that bin Laden is in Pakistan. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's army has captured 500 al-Qaeda militants and handed them over to the U.S., and has lost more than 500 soldiers fighting al-Qaeda in the rugged tribal areas. But the reality is that Musharraf has little incentive to catch bin Laden - and it may even be in the military's interest to keep him alive.

Pakistan's military fears that its alliance with the U.S. is a short-term one, based on cooperating in the war on terrorism, while Washington's long-term ally in the region is India, Pakistan's rival, with which the U.S. signed a 10-year strategic defense pact on June 29. According to this logic, America cannot dump Pakistan as long as the war on terrorism continues and bin Laden remains to be captured.