A crude bomb made of gasoline, fireworks and alarm-clocks parked in the back of a Nissan Pathfinder cleared Times Square, and it might be clearing relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. As everyone has read already, that bomb did not explode and the bomber was caught. At first, he said he acted alone but a day later the Pakistani cell of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the failed plot. The Pakistani police have taken other suspects into custody.
Today, news came from the Middle East that western Pakistan was being drilled by drone attacks. How will this failed attack affect relations with Pakistan? Will the United States be more involved in anti-terrorist operations within the country? The American military presence in Pakistan has already grown substantially over the past year, and now totals more than two hundred troops, part of a program to share intelligence with Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops and train them to battle militant groups. But the fact that the Times Square bomber received training in Pakistan from a Taliban camp is gathering support for those who want to increase operations in Pakistan.
Rumors surrounding the Obama administration are that officials want to have more boots on the ground. However, America’s presence in Pakistan is a very delicate issue. Most Pakistanis oppose America’s influence in their country and, in addition, the administration has been working to improve relations with Islamabad. Pakistani officials have blown hot and cold on the issue of American troops in the country. Months ago, when sentiment was running more strongly against additional troops, Pakistan held up issuing visas for advisers and trainers.
Pakistan has said that it will cooperate with the U.S. on finding terrorists and that it will continue to hunt militant’s for it’s own sake. But there is a strong feeling that if the car bomb would have exploded, it could strain relations on both sides.