- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, all but giving up on efforts to mediate the standoff over accused terrorist Osama bin Laden, said yesterday a U.S. military strike against Afghanistan appears likely, and the Taliban's days probably are numbered.
That blunt assessment by Gen. Musharraf came as the first relief convoy since the start of the crisis reached Afghanistan's hungry capital, Kabul, and Taliban forces reported gains in the hit-and-run warfare being waged with opposition fighters across Afghanistan's mountainous north.
The Taliban regime also was bolstering its garrison in the Afghan capital. More than 6,500 fresh troops have arrived in recent days, said Taliban officials in Kabul.
Pakistan has been in a quandary since the Sept. 11 terror attacks that tore through a part of the Pentagon and toppled the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
The country does not want to see its ally, the United States, do battle with the Taliban, the austere Islamic movement that rules next-door Afghanistan with a heavy hand but has brought a measure of stability to the war-battered country. Pakistan is the only government in the world to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate rulers.
After suspicion in the suicide hijackings focused on bin Laden, Pakistan agreed to lend its full support to the United States in the war on terrorists.
But it made repeated efforts to persuade the Taliban to take steps to stave off a U.S. retaliatory strike namely by surrendering bin Laden, Afghanistan's "guest" of the past five years. During that time, bin Laden made Afghanistan the field headquarters for a wide-ranging terror network known as al Qaeda, or "the base."
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Gen. Musharraf said Pakistan had nothing to show for its diplomatic campaign.
"We were interacting with [the Taliban] so that moderation could take place and maybe this kind of action is averted," he said. "But it appears, because of the stand that the Taliban have taken, that confrontation will take place."
The Pakistani president said it now "appears that the United States will take action in Afghanistan, and we have conveyed this to the Taliban." Asked if the Taliban's days were numbered, he replied: "It appears so."
Pakistan said it would keep trying, even though it saw almost no chance of persuading the Taliban regime to relent.
"Whatever dim hopes are left, possibilities exist," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan.
He said Pakistan had no knowledge about U.S. plans for any strike.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide