U.S. Sees Hope in Pakistan Requests for Help
In Document, Islamabad Seeks Military and Civil Aid from Washington; Perceived as Exchange for Crackdown on Taliban
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG And PETER SPIEGEL, Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2010
Pakistan sent a 56-page document to the U.S. ahead of strategic talks scheduled for Wednesday, seeking expanded military and economic aid in what some American officials believe is an implicit offer to crack down in return on the Afghan Taliban.
The previously undisclosed document includes requests ranging from U.S. help to alleviate Pakistan's chronic water and power shortages to pleas for surveillance aircraft and support in developing the country's civilian nuclear program.
U.S. officials say the document and the talks surrounding it could help redefine one of America's thorniest foreign-policy relationships, if it leads to a serious Pakistani clampdown on the Taliban.
The Taliban uses Pakistan, a U.S. ally, as its rear base in its fight against American and allied forces in neighboring Afghanistan, and has often relied on clandestine support from elements of Pakistan's national security establishment. But in the past few months, Pakistan has rounded up several senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban on its soil, and last year it began a series of offensives against the Pakistan offshoot of the Afghan movement.
U.S. officials are keen to see those moves broadened as a key to shifting the momentum of the Afghan war. "Right now, we're looking at something that could deliver a big part of our success in Afghanistan," said a senior U.S. military official, speaking of the document and talks.
The document outlines a range of aid Pakistan is seeking from the U.S., say American and Pakistani officials who have seen it or been briefed on its contents. A high-level meeting between senior Pakistani and U.S. officials in Washington on Wednesday aims to stitch together their fraying alliance.
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