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Bush, Zardari Meet as U.S.-Pakistan Relations Deteriorate

Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

When Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, met privately with U.S. President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York Tuesday, the deteriorating security situation along the Afghan-Pakistani border was certainly a central topic of discussion. But while cross-border attacks from both sides of the frontier are seriously exacerbating relations between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, they might also paradoxically be driving the three countries to consider ever-deeper levels of cooperation.

Afghan officials, and their American and NATO allies, have long criticized their Pakistani counterparts for failing to suppress the numerous Islamist militants based in Pakistan's remote northwest border regions. Many Taliban leaders established sanctuary in Pakistan's so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) -- which have traditionally enjoyed considerable autonomy from Islamabad -- after the American invasion of Afghanistan drove them and their al-Qaida allies from power. Fighters belonging to the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida, and other extremist groups have also established safe havens in the FATA and nearby regions, turning the area into a base of operations from which to wage an increasingly successful cross-border guerrilla war against the pro-U.S. government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. ...

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