Washington's top two intelligence officials made a secret trip to Pakistan this month "to convince Musharraf that time is ticking," the New York Times reports, quoting senior officials. DNI director Mike McConnell and CIA chief Michael Hayden sought greater latitude for the CIA to operate in Pakistan's near-lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, but President Pervez Musharraf nixed any expansion of US combat presence.
But the two sides did agree to exchange information more quickly and to expand air missions. American intelligence services organized the Jan. 9 meeting, the first since Benazir Bhutto's assassination, amid heightened fears that the Taliban and other Islamic militants are stepping up efforts to destabilize the Pakistani government. Washington fears that Pakistan's internal political problems will distract Musharraf.