Every dismissive assumption made about al Qaeda before the September 11 terrorist tragedy was wrong. So is almost every assumption made about the terrorist organization today. Al Qaeda remains the most dangerous international security threat to both the Western and Islamic worlds.
War weariness is taking root among some Pashtuns in Pakistan. A recent gathering of Pashtun leaders spoke out forcefully for an end to Taliban violence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. They also called on the Pakistani government to cut its alleged ties with the radical Islamic movement.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants to convene a jirga, or gathering of the Pashtun tribes living on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border, in an effort to stem Taliban violence and contain the spread of Islamic extremism.
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) takes command of overall international military operations in Afghanistan, commanders from five NATO countries whose troops have just fought the bloodiest battle with the Taliban since 2001 have asked their governments to get tough with Pakistan for the support and sanctuary that its security services provide the Taliban in the southern province
President Pervez Musharraf and other top Pakistani military leaders are defying the United States on key policy issues, including nuclear proliferation and pipeline construction, as relations between the two countries plummet.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration, backed by the United States and Britain, is pressuring Pakistan to take action to stop suicide bombings in Afghanistan. During his recent visit to Islamabad, Karzai presented evidence to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf implicating Pakistan in the recruitment, training and equipping of Islamic radical suicide bombers.
The Pakistani government's economic development plans for Baluchistan -- the country's poorest, yet strategically most sensitive province -- threaten to provoke an armed uprising by local tribesmen. The prospect of ongoing instability could have a considerable economic and social impact on countries throughout Central Asia.