Why the U.S. Is Putting the Squeeze on Pakistan

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Pakistan may deserve to be on the State Department's list of pro-terrorist states, but that doesn't mean Washington can afford to put it there. The U.S. has information pointing to an organization backed by the Pakistani military as the culprits in the recent hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane, the New York Times reported Tuesday. But Pakistan's military ruler, General Parvez Musharraf, has rebuffed a U.S. request to ban the Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, the organization allegedly responsible for the attack. Nonetheless, by publicly discussing Pakistan's involvement in terrorism, the U.S. is turning up the heat.

"Washington is now saying openly that Pakistan is an active sponsor of an organization that committed an act of terrorism against Americans — there was one U.S. citizen aboard the hijacked plane — and that suggests Pakistan should clearly be on the list," says TIME Washington correspondent Massimo Calabresi. "But it's not going to happen, because we can't afford to close the door on Pakistan — Pakistani cooperation is the only chance we have of capturing Osama Bin Laden. Terrorism is the No. 1 national security priority right now, and Pakistan continues to cooperate, although perhaps not as much as Washington would like." They've helped the U.S. arrest World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, as well as the man who attacked CIA headquarters in Langley and also some of Bin Laden's lieutenants. And the road to Bin Laden runs through Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement, and the road to the Taliban runs through Pakistan, which is why the U.S. is piling on the pressure.