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Pakistan army chief said to resist US demands

By Jane Perlez
New York Times / May 13, 2011

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ISLAMABAD — Despite mounting pressure from the United States since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, seems unlikely to respond to US demands to root out other militant leaders, according to people who have met with him in the past 10 days.

While the general does not want to abandon the alliance, he is more likely to pursue a strategy of decreasing Pakistan’s reliance on the United States and continuing to offer just enough cooperation to keep US aid flowing, said a confidant of the general.

Such a response is certain to test US officials, who are more mistrustful of Pakistan than ever. Emboldened by the May 2 raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan, US officials say they now have greater leverage to force Pakistani cooperation in hunting down Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders so the United States can end the war in Afghanistan.

The United States will now push harder for Kayani to break with other militant leaders who US officials believe are hiding in Pakistan with support of the military and intelligence service, a senior US official said. The leaders include Mullah Muhammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Afghan Taliban, the official said.

Pakistani officials, meanwhile, are anxiously waiting to see if any new intelligence about Al Qaeda in Pakistan spills from the US raid that could be used to exert more pressure on the group.

But those who have spoken with the army chief recently said that demands to break with top militant leaders may be too much for Kayani, who is scheduled to address an unusual, closed-door joint session of Parliament today to explain the military’s lapses surrounding the US raid.

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