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Bomb Attempt Puts U.S.-Pakistan Ties In Spotlight

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Bomb Attempt Puts U.S.-Pakistan Ties In Spotlight


Bomb Attempt Puts U.S.-Pakistan Ties In Spotlight

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And we're going to take another look at the attempted bombing in Times Square last weekend. The failed attack was in New York City, but the investigation quickly began to focus on Pakistan. U.S. authorities believe the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, may have received training in bomb-making there. The U.S. has long pressured Pakistan to curb militancy and training camps on its own soil with mixed results.

NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM: From the time it became clear there was a Pakistan connection, there seemed to be a concerted effort by U.S. officials to keep the rhetoric, the finger-pointing, to a minimum. As the days wear on and developments unfold, relations between Pakistan and the U.S. appear strong and on an even keel. P.J. Crowley is a State Department spokesman.

Mr. P.J. CROWLEY (U.S. State Department): Our law enforcement personnel are dealing with their counterparts in Pakistan. Our intelligence services are dealing with their counterparts. We're trying to understand and trace now what did this individual do when he was on the ground in Pakistan, who did he meet with, and what are the implications of those actions?

NORTHAM: Crowley says Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, will continue to meet every day with senior Pakistani officials while the investigation continues.

The State Department spokesman paints a picture of cooperation and coordination between the two countries. In reality, the U.S. has been pushing Pakistan - often hard - for several years to do more to prevent this kind of attack.

But Shuja Nawaz, the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, said there's no need for a public dressing down by Washington.

Mr. SHUJA NAWAZ (Director, South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council): There's obviously already a fairly heightened dialogue between the United States and Pakistan. I don't see the need to go public with any berating of Pakistani authorities for not doing enough. I think there is an understanding on both sides that much needs to be done.

NORTHAM: On the military front in particular. Washington has prodded Islamabad to root out terrorist camps and networks on its soil. The Pakistan military has launched a series of offensives in militant strongholds along the border with Afghanistan.

But two months ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was turned down point blank when he requested Pakistan's military conduct more operations in North Waziristan. The area is one of the most important safe havens for the Taliban, al-Qaida, and other militant groups. And there are indications it's where alleged Times Square attacker Faisal Shahzad received training.

Brian Fishman, a terrorism expert at the New America Foundation, says the New York City incident may give the U.S. more leverage in its arguments.

Mr. BRIAN FISHMAN (New America Foundation): I think that the U.S. right now is pushing very hard for the Paks to go into North Waziristan militarily. I think that that was happening before this attempted attack and I think that this is going to give the U.S. diplomats and military folks that are making that argument even more sort of substantiation.

NORTHAM: But Tom Johnson, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, says the Pakistani government and military have national security interests that differ from those of the U.S., and which rule out widespread incursions into North Waziristan - for now. Johnson says the Pakistanis are firm in their convictions.

Professor TOM JOHNSON (Naval Postgraduate School): The Pakistanis have been pretty hard-core on what they'll allow us to do and what they won't allow us to do in these areas, and even their willingness to follow our advice in programs and operations that we view as very critical.

NORTHAM: The Pakistani government has said it won't allow U.S. combat troops to operate in the area. The U.S. has intensified an aerial offensive - using unmanned drones - in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions, including North Waziristan. And that campaign could be stepped up further in the wake of last week's failed bombing attempt.

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MONTAGNE: And that's NPR's Jackie Northam.

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