World News

Bush to warn Pakistan on combating militants: report

Pakistani soldiers stand guard on a snow-covered mountainous region of Lwara Fort along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in North Waziristan, February 17, 2007. REUTERS/Robert Birsel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf warning that the new Democratic-led Congress could cut aid to his country unless it does more to crack down on al Qaeda operatives, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The decision came after the White House concluded that Musharraf, a key ally in Washington’s “War on Terror,” was not living up to commitment he made to Bush in September to combat militant groups, the newspaper said, citing senior administration officials.

Pakistan says it is doing all it can to stop militants infiltrating Afghanistan, but the U.S. military says cross-border attacks around the Afghan frontier increased sharply last year.

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the terrorist infrastructure was being rebuilt, and that while Pakistan has attacked some camps, its overall effort has flagged, The New York Times reported.

“He’s made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working,” one senior administration official told the newspaper. “The message we’re sending to him now is that the only thing that matters is results.”

“We think the Pakistani aid is at risk in Congress,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

The House of Representatives recently adopted a bill requiring Bush to certify Pakistan is making “all possible efforts” to prevent the Taliban from operating in areas under its sovereign control as a condition of continued U.S. military aid. The Senate was considering a response to pressure Islamabad to do more combat militant groups.

Pakistan receives about $850 million annually in U.S. economic, military and counternarcotics aid and about $350 million of that could be affected by the House bill, congressional experts say.

Under Musharraf, Pakistan became a key ally after the September 11 attacks by withdrawing its support for the Taliban government, sharing intelligence with U.S. officials and rounding up suspected Islamic militants.