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Pakistan's wary eye on Obama's Afghanistan debate

A planned Pakistani military offensive should embolden US efforts against the Taliban.

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As President Obama ponders the future US role in Afghanistan, critics of an American buildup there would be wise to take a cue from neighboring Pakistan.

There, a startling shift in that country's view of radical Islam has led the Army to prepare a major assault on the main sanctuaries for the Pakistani Taliban and perhaps Al Qaeda.

Any day, some 28,000 soldiers, backed up by the CIA, are expected to enter the tribal area of Waziristan along the mountainous border. The goal for this risky offensive is to oust thousands of Muslim militants who have sent suicide bombers to kill innocent Pakistanis.

The assault won't be easy, and Pakistan's long-term ability to pacify this largely lawless region is still very much in doubt. People in that area need to know the government will bring a new measure of justice and prosperity.

But the apparent determination of Pakistan's military to conduct the offensive should remind the US that other countries look to it for leadership in the long fight against jihadists everywhere. And both Pakistan and Afghanistan – or "Afpak" – are the front lines in that struggle.

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