Pervez Musharraf (R) greets U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Islamabad
February 26, 2007. Cheney pressed Musharraf to step up efforts to combat a
new Taliban offensive in Afghanistan and a resurgent al Qaeda, during an
unannounced visit to Islamabad on Monday. [Reuters]
Bagram Airbase- US Vice President Dick Cheney flew into Pakistan
and Afghanistan on Monday to press for a united front in the war against the
resurgent Taliban, with media reports saying he would tell Islamabad only
Cheney asked Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to
take tougher action against Taliban militants and sympathizers on his side of
the largely lawless and porous border, where US commanders say the rebels are
sheltering and training.
"He asked President Musharraf that Pakistan should do more," a Pakistani
official said after the meeting between Cheney and Musharraf at the presidential
The visit came as the New York Times said US President Bush had decided to send
"an unusually tough message" to a major ally in the war on terror by reminding
Musharraf the new Democrat-led Congress would cut aid if he did not do more to
combat the Taliban.
"(Musharraf has) ... made a number of assurances over the past few months, but
the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working," the Times quoted
an unnamed senior US administration official as saying. "The message that we
are sending him now is that the only thing that matters is results."
With elections due in Pakistan this year, and US pressure building on
neighboring Iran over its nuclear program, analysts say Washington will be
careful not to say anything publicly that could hurt Musharraf domestically.
A senior US official recently said pressure was better applied quietly than
A meeting between Cheney and Afghan President Hamid Karzai did not go ahead
as planned. Cheney officials said the reason was weather, amid heavy snow, and
they would be rescheduled. Karzai's officials gave no reason for the delay but
said the talks would go ahead on Tuesday.
Pakistan, which has lost more than 700 soldiers in battles against rebels and
says it has captured hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda militants, says it is
doing as much as it can.
Musharraf says Taliban fighters do operate from Pakistan, but their leaders
are in Afghanistan.
"The president made it clear to Cheney that Pakistan is doing its best and
militancy and violence are Afghanistan's problems and their roots are there, not
in Pakistan," the Pakistani official said.
The Afghan government, its foreign allies and the Taliban all warn of a
bloody spring offensive as the snows melt within weeks, after 4,000 people died
in fighting last year in the bloodiest period since the hardline Islamist
government was ousted in 2001.
Each promises to be the one to take the offensive.
Cheney's visit to Islamabad coincided with one by Margaret Beckett, foreign
secretary of Britain, which along with Canada provides the major combat back-up
to US troops in Afghanistan.
The US, which took command of the NATO-led force in
Afghanistan this year, and Britain recently announced an increase in fighting
forces, but NATO commanders say they are still short of numbers promised by the