Pervez Musharraf has backed out of meetings with his Afghan counterpart in an abrupt snub that initially shocked Washington. Musharraf told Hamid Karzai he has other “engagements" at home in Pakistan and can't attend the meeting of tribal leaders intended to discuss military violence. The US is looking into the announcement, but says it's sure the general-president had "good and compelling reasons."
The Bush administration has been pushing for the two feuding leaders to meet; Karzai expressed enthusiasm about the talks earlier this week. But the BBC reports that Musharraf is still brooding over criticism from US presidential candidates about Pakistan’s handling of Islamic extremism. Some speculate his absence could render the “peace jirga” irrelevant.