- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2001

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia threatened yesterday to invade Pakistan and any other Muslim nation that provides bases for U.S. troops in the war on terrorism.
The threat came as Pakistan pledged "full cooperation" with a series of measures sought by the United States in preparation for a campaign against terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, who resides in Afghanistan under Taliban protection.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf made the pledge in a phone call to President Bush at Camp David yesterday, in which the two leaders sought to work out details.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said that his nation would join the United States in "a coalition that will be built over time."
"We must not only go after the perpetrators but after the whole curse of terrorism on the face of the earth," Mr. Sattar said in a telephone interview from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
With Washington having zeroed in on bin Laden as the probable leader of Tuesday's strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, speculation surged yesterday of an impending attack on bin Laden's training bases in Afghanistan.
Mr. Sattar declined to discuss specifics on how his nation would cooperate with Washington, which has asked Pakistan for several measures that include:
Sharing intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts.
Sealing its border with Afghanistan.
Cutting off shipments of energy to Afghanistan.
Allowing U.S. forces to use Pakistani airspace.
Providing land for U.S. forces to use as a base for anti-terror operations.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, with Mr. Bush at Camp David, thanked Pakistan for its offer of support, which he described as "very forthcoming."
"I especially want to thank the president and the people of Pakistan for the support that they have offered and their willingness to assist us in whatever might be required in that part of the world," Mr. Powell said.
As Pakistan and the United States appeared to reach an accommodation, Afganistan's militant Taliban leaders threatened to declare war on any nation that helps the United States — a threat that Mr. Sattar said was obviously directed at Pakistan.
"If any regional or neighboring country helps the United States attack us, it would spark extraordinary dangers. It would draw us into a reprisal war," said Abdul Salam Zaeef, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan.
"If neighboring or regional countries, particularly Islamic countries, give positive response to American demands for military bases it would spark off extraordinary danger," Mr. Zaeef said. "We would attack such countries and occupy their territories."
Said Mr. Sattar: "The Afghan statement was not very veiled — quite clearly what has been said is an unambiguous threat.
"Maybe it's a statement made in anger. We are not responding to that statement in the same tone."
Mr. Sattar also said that Pakistan, staggering under a $38 billion foreign-debt burden, expected the United States to lift economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear-weapons program before any terror cooperation could go forward.
U.S. sanctions were imposed in 1990 over Pakistan's efforts to build a nuclear bomb. More sanctions were imposed when the country successfully tested its nuclear bombs in 1998. It applied additional sanctions following the 1999 military coup that brought Gen. Musharraf to power.
"Can you think of cooperation in the presence of sanctions?" Mr. Sattar asked.
Pakistani officials remain fearful of joining any attack on bin Laden and his Taliban backers because perhaps 20 percent of Pakistan's 140 million people are from the same ethnic group as the Taliban — the Pushtun.
"This is a very serious concern in Islamabad on part of the government," Mr. Sattar said. "There are close ties between the people of the two countries along the border. We are people of the same ethnic group — Pushtun — we share the same language and history.
"What we hope is the United States will fully understand the deep anxiety that has prevailed in this country with regard to the developing situation."
The United States also picked up support from some centrist Arab nations yesterday, an apparent response to a series of calls Mr. Powell made Friday to leaders throughout the Middle East.
Egypt said yesterday it was cooperating with the United States in an investigation into the suicide attacks because one of the hijackers, Mohammed Atta, was shown to be an Egyptian.
Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, is "prepared to cooperate with the United States as required at the present stage," said its emir, Sheik Hamad bin Issa Khalifa.
The United Arab Emirates, one of only three countries to have diplomatic relations with the Taliban, is "reviewing" those ties, a senior official told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

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