- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 21, 2009

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan expressed fear Friday that a large increase in foreign troops in Afghanistan could push militants across the border into its territory and called on the U.S. to factor in that concern as part of its new war strategy.

Meanwhile, a suspected U.S. missile strike killed eight militants in northwestern Pakistan, officials said, the second attack this week in an area thought to hold many insurgents who fled from an army offensive elsewhere in the Afghan border region.

The Pakistani concerns, raised by the prime minister during a meeting with visiting CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, could pose another headache for President Obama as he weighs military proposals to send 10,000 to 40,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the United States must fully share its plans for Afghanistan with Pakistan so that it can contribute to them, according to a statement from his office. Mr. Gilani also warned that more troops could push militants across the border.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the CIA director’s visit. U.S. security and government leaders have frequently visited Pakistan in recent weeks to urge it to do more against militants on its side of the border blamed for violence inside Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have said in the past they were worried that Mr. Obama’s original surge of 21,000 troops this past summer would lead to more militants crossing over into the country, something that has not happened.

Also, U.S. plans to close remote posts near the border and instead focus on larger population centers in Afghanistan have sparked fears that militants will now find it easier to move between the two countries.

Pakistan’s government is under domestic pressure not to be seen as simply taking orders from the United States and must give the impression it has a say in any new Afghan policy. As such, Mr. Gilani’s statement could have been as much directed at a local audience as to the Americans.

Four Pakistani soldiers, including a captain, were killed Friday when militants ambushed their convoy in the North Waziristan area of Shawal, local intelligence officials said.

Two police officers also were killed and four others were wounded earlier Friday when a remote-controlled bomb destroyed their vehicle in Peshawar, said city police Chief Liaquat Ali Khan.

A U.S. drone fired two missiles at a compound being used by suspected Taliban militants in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, according to two intelligence officials.

The compound was destroyed and eight bodies and two wounded militants were pulled from the rubble, two other intelligence officials said, adding that Taliban militants were frequently seen at the targeted building.

The officials all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

The Pakistani government publicly condemns the U.S. strikes as violations of its sovereignty, but many analysts think the two countries have a secret deal allowing them.

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