Nation

The question of creating a Pashtunistan has been batted back and forth in regional politics since Pakistan was formed. In the past, Afghanistan sought to annex the North West territory. To thwart this, the Pakistani military began spreading money around to various Pashtun factions, trying to pit one against another. Pakistan was pleased to support the Taliban, made up mostly of Pashtuns who were less interested in secular politics than in religious ideals. Their opposition to creating an independent state coincided with Pakistani interests all too well.

Pakistan can't help but be leery of the Northern Alliance, which attacked its embassy in Kabul. Additionally, the alliance has cordial relations with Israel and India, Pakistani foes. Last week India sent its first high-level diplomatic mission to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over, promising to restore "historic ties."

There are signs the U.S. may be trying to ease the situation, with its Special Forces participating in a deal that allowed several hundred Taliban fighters to leave Kunduz and travel all the way to Kandahar. What's more, Pakistani planes were landing at night to pick up Pak volunteers fighting with the Taliban before the siege of Kunduz.

But the U.S. could most reassure Pakistan not with guns, but with a fulfilled promise to set up a multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan and police the country with a multinational force.

For now, Pakistani diplomats are having a hard time believing this will ever come to be. President Pervez Musharraf has come under harsh attack from his public, who say he is allowing the country to be double-crossed by the Americans. Last week, his nation watched as India moved up more soldiers and heavy armor as part of a full-scale alert along the Kashmir front. One theory holds that Musharraf may find it in his best interest to let the fundamentalists have their way in Kashmir and stage a surprise offensive against India, in the process taking the heat off himself.


Hate Groups Revel in New York's Misery
Wing and a Curse

From the Aryan Nations Web site, hours after Flight 587 went down: "American Airlines Airbus A300 explodes and crashes in Belle Harbor, Queens, jew York City! Let us pray it struck a nice jewish community!"


Additional reporting: Meritxell Mir and Sarah Park

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