Since the attacks on the United States of September 11th, 2001, Pakistan has become an important partner in the fight against global terrorism. The U.S. is working closely with the government of President Pervez Musharraf to round up members of al-Qaida and the Taleban who continue to operate along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Recently, Pakistani forces captured an al-Qaida suspect wanted in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks killed more than two-hundred people and wounded over five-thousand others. Important information has emerged from the arrest, says Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat:
“As we have seen in the past, one arrest has led to other arrests and the dismantling of other networks.”
Pakistani forces are trying to capture or kill foreign terrorists hiding in the mountainous tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. These operations have driven terrorists out of the area known as South Waziristan. But the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is far from secure, and more military operations will be needed.
Islamic extremists also continue to carry out acts of terrorism within Pakistan. There have been assassination attempts on Mr. Musharraf and other civilian and military leaders. Recently, some leaders of banned extremist groups have been arrested. But as long as the groups are allowed to exist, the threat will continue.
In a recent speech, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Nancy Powell said, “If Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the United States should be willing to make hard choices too, and make the difficult long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan.”
President George W. Bush has made it clear that the U.S. is so committed, and expects Pakistan to continue to combat Islamic extremism and terrorism.