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ISLAMABAD — Recent threats by the Bush administration to cut off billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan have sparked panic in government circles. Likewise, according to the Pakistani ambassador in Washington, military strikes by the United States aimed at al-Qaida and Taliban havens inside Pakistan’s tribal areas would destabilize Pakistan and “possibly could bring (Gen. Pervez Musharraf) down.” But how worried should the Pakistani authorities really be in the face of growing U.S. pressure to root out Islamic militants?

Occasional frustrations notwithstanding, it is, in fact, unlikely that the U.S. will turn against a faithful — and dependent — ally, especially one whose leader enjoys cordial personal relations with Bush. Nor, due to a lack of organized opposition, will public anger at Musharraf’s pro-U.S. policy destabilize his regime. Indeed, the wily president does not merely survive crisis after crisis, but has thrived in power.

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