While Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf was in London being praised by Gordon Brown as a “key ally in the war on terrorism”, his country’s border with Afghanistan was in flames.
The British and US governments have been pushing Musharraf to expand his assault on “jihadists”. These groups were groomed by the Pakistani security services in the 1980s and 1990s, but now oppose Musharraf’s role in the “war on terror”.
Fighting between rebels and the Pakistani military heightened this week, spilling into previously peaceful parts of the border areas.
The Pakistani military last week sent helicopter gunships to Kohat, in the North West Frontier Province, in an effort to regain control of a crucial tunnel on the Indus highway, which connects the city of Peshawar with the port city of Karachi.
Officials are now worried about possible threats to supply lines through Pakistan to Nato forces in Afghanistan.
US director of national intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA director General Michael Hayden were sent on an “unannounced trip” to Pakistan earlier this month.
They were there to press Musharraf into allowing US troops to fight inside the Pakistani border, a move that the president rejected fearing a widespread backlash.
However Musharraf did agree that the US could expand the use of its unmanned, but heavily armed, Predator aircraft in Pakistani airspace.
Musharraf may have done enough to please his Western backers, but the country of which he is president appears to be spiralling out of his control.