Orange County Register: Much has been made of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's unequivocal support for the United States in its efforts to combat terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Britain certainly has been supportive, and the Bush administration can be grateful to have such a firm ally. No doubt the prime minister risked some political capital in his stance.
But the most impressive act of international support for U.S. anti-terror efforts has come from Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, whose stance carries a greater risk than Mr. Blair's.
Strong support: During a press conference on Sunday, General Musharraf explained to Pakistanis why his government allowed the United States to use the country's air space -- even as pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan took to the streets to protest the U.S./British air strikes. The Pakistani general also sacked pro-Taliban military leaders and put a pro-Taliban cleric under house arrest.
The general's remarks were unequivocal also: "Pakistan took the decision of being part of the world, of the world community and a part of a coalition to fight terrorism. ... The focus fell on Osama bin Laden and his supporters and we were asked to provide intelligence cooperation, use of our air space and logistic support. ... That is what we are providing now."
Goal: Furthermore, the general explained why his government continued to maintain contact with Afghanistan's Taliban: "We tried to bring moderation to the Taliban government. We made all possible efforts to extradite Osama bin Laden, we made all possible efforts to free the eight foreigners being tried in Afghanistan. ... We tried our utmost, but, unfortunately, may I say, I accept that we could not achieve what we were trying with them."
Certainly, the Pakistani leader issued some caveats. He didn't want the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance to take advantage of the current situation; he urged a multi-ethnic new government in Afghanistan that would be a peaceful neighbor; he had been assured that the air strikes would be limited to military targets and would not have collateral damage.
Given the tense situation in a neighboring country, the strong pockets of support for the Taliban within Pakistan, the Pakistani general took a bold step that will no doubt help the United States anti-terror effort immensely.
Yes, the United States can be quite persuasive - especially with promises of aid to a country struggling through economic problems. Yes, the current Pakistani regime is by no means democratic nor without its human-rights problems.
All the same, Musharraf's actions might one day be remembered as a profile in courage.