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Pakistan Strike Called Response To U.S. Reports
Rashid resigned from parliament in protest Monday, as did another senior leader of the religious political alliance that controls North-West Frontier Province, near Afghanistan. Until now, the country's religious parties had maintained an uneasy alliance with Musharraf, and he often deferred to their demands.
Pakistani officials dismissed comparisons with the January attack. "I can say with 100 percent surety that our forces targeted the terrorist training facility," the chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, asserted. "It is wrong to draw any comparison with U.S.-led action in Damadola."
If Monday's attack was carried out exclusively by Pakistan's military, it suggests that Musharraf -- long squeezed between domestic and international pressure on the terrorism issue -- decided to risk near-certain outrage at home to bolster his faltering credentials as a partner in the United States' global campaign.
Musharraf visited Washington last month, where he met with President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House. In the past, Musharraf's government has earned U.S. praise for arresting and killing many al-Qaeda fighters. But relations have been cool with Karzai because of the Afghan accusations that Pakistan is harboring Taliban fighters.
According to Durrani, the Pakistani ambassador, the Washington meetings included pledges by Pakistan to make a strong effort to fight terrorism, to involve tribal leaders in both countries in that effort and to share intelligence with U.S. and Afghan officials.
"Yes, there are sensitivities, but we cannot sit on our haunches and do nothing," he said. "Many times, things we do in the tribal areas are misinterpreted and not popular. But you have to do tough things. This sends the message that we mean business."
One Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the religious school in Khar was "serving as nucleus for all pro-al-Qaeda and pro-Taliban activities" in the Bajaur tribal district.
Publicly, Sultan and other Pakistani officials acknowledged that the attack was partly based on foreign intelligence. Privately, other officials said the information was developed solely by Americans. "They pressed the intelligence hard against our face. . . . A rapid military action was inevitable," one said.
Durrani said no one at the school was younger than 20 and that no children or other civilians were believed killed.
Constable reported from Washington, and Khan reported from Karachi, Pakistan.