U.S. visit feeds Pakistani worry over U.S. attack

Robert Birsel
Reuters North American News Service ,July 13, 2008 02:22 EST

ISLAMABAD, July 13 (Reuters) – The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, visited Pakistan on the weekend, fueling speculation that the United States was about to take action against militants in northwest Pakistan.

Pakistan has been a close U.S. ally in the global campaign against terrorism but the United States has become increasingly frustrated at what it sees as insufficient effort by Islamabad to fight militants on the Afghan border.

A U.S. embassy spokeswoman confirmed that Mullen had made a one-day trip to Pakistan on Saturday, but said she had no details about his meetings. Pakistani military and government spokesmen were not available for comment.

Pakistani newspapers said Mullen, in talks with Pakistani military commanders and leaders of a new government, had expressed deep frustration with growing cross-border militant attacks and had called for decisive action to stop it.

“Sources quoted Mullen as complaining that militants were moving across the border with greater liberty now than during the previous government,” the Dawn newspaper said.

Pakistan’s semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun tribal belt on the border has became a sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban militants fighting Western soldiers in Afghanistan and against security forces in Pakistan where 15 soldiers were killed on Saturday.

The U.S. Pentagon said last month insurgent havens in Pakistan were the biggest threat to Afghan security.

Pakistan has ruled out allowing foreign troops onto its soil although U.S. pilotless drones have been increasing their flights, and attacks, over the Pakistani side of the border.

Continued . . .


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