Islamic extremists are using a recent peace deal with Pakistan to establish a terrorist 'œmini-state' in northern Pakistan, expanding their training of suicide bombers and bolstering ties with the Taliban and al Qaida, The New York Times reported this week. Diplomats said militants are openly flouting a September accord in North Waziristan, in which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, while the government agreed to withdraw troops from the remote area. Instead, it is becoming a magnet for foreign jihadists, who are wresting control from local tribes. 'œThey are taking territory,' one Western ambassador said of the militants. 'œThey are becoming much more aggressive in Pakistan.'
The development poses grave challenges both to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and to the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, officials said. Musharraf is under U.S. pressure to crack down on militants, but must balance that against the growing anti-American sentiment of the Muslim population. Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are gaining territory and adherents. 'œI expect the next year to be quite bloody,' said Ronald Neumann, the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan. 'œI don't expect the Taliban to win, but everyone needs to understand that we are in for a fight.'
Don't think any of this was an accident, said Arnaud de Borchgrave in The Washington Times. Pakistani intelligence has been complicit in the resurgence of the Taliban, 'œwith the full knowledge and approval' of Musharraf. The nonaggression pacts with the tribes, which Musharraf said were intended to kick out the Taliban, were in fact the opposite. 'œThe White House knows about Musharraf's double cross in Afghanistan, but the steady stream of bad news out of Iraq precludes even worse news from what is still described as a success story.'
New York Post