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Strike on Mehsud could spur stronger US-Pakistan cooperation

The targeting of the Pakistan Taliban leader showed US willingness to pursue Pakistani priorities. The US may now push for more help in finding Pakistan-based militants who operate in Afghanistan.

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US officers have complained for years that Pakistan has been reluctant to help kill or capture some Taliban leaders who operate in the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border.

But the US drone strike that apparently killed senior Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud (click here for the Monitor's story on the strike) on Wednesday couldn't have pleased Pakistani officials more, since Mr. Mehsud led an army of 10,000 militants who were more focused on overthrowing the Pakistani government than on returning Taliban rule to Afghanistan.

Pakistani analysts say the strike was made possible by marrying American technology to Pakistani ground intelligence. They say the US may now get more Pakistani cooperation in hunting down militant leaders who are based in Pakistan but conduct most of their attacks on the other side of the border.

The US will now probably be seeking a "quid pro quo," says Imtiaz Gul, head of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. Mr. Gul argues that the US is going to have the following conversation with Pakistan: "We [the US] took care of a person who was inflicting damage against Pakistan – now you take care of those going after the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan."

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