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Pakistan President Zardari's nine political lives

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The army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, has let it be known repeatedly that he’s not interested in getting involved in politics, but the Pakistan People's Party, the country's largest political party, remains wary. Under pressure from Washington, Zardari and the country’s civilian leaders have pushed the military for greater action against Islamic extremists.

“If you have the civilians and the military at loggerheads, it creates a more confusing picture for the Americans, an extra layer of uncertainty,” said Cyril Almeida, a newspaper columnist for Dawn, a Pakistani daily newspaper. “And the fight in Pakistan is moving from counterinsurgency to the more delicate phase of counter-terrorism, for which you need co-ordination between agencies and between the civilian and military apparatus.”

The importance of North Waziristan, in northwest Pakistan, was underscored Wednesday by another US missile strike in the area, which is a stronghold for the Haqqani network, considered a close ally of Al Qaeda and the most dangerous insurgent group in Afghanistan. It was the fifth such strike since a suicide bomber killed a group of CIA officers in the adjacent Afghan province of Khost last week. According to news reports, 12 people were killed in the latest strike.

Separately, a suicide bomber hit a military camp Wednesday in the Pakistani portion of the Kashmir region, which Pakistan and India both claim, killing three soldiers.

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