U.S. military briefs Pakistan on possible strikes
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- U.S. military officials briefed Pakistani government and military officials Monday about possible retaliatory strikes after terrorist attacks in New York and Washington as Pakistan's largest Islamic political party threatened violence against any U.S. forces in the country.
The Pentagon delegation quietly arrived in Islamabad on Saturday night, and it will visit the Quetta and Peshawar areas, diplomatic sources said. A Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman said Monday that "their goal seems to be information sharing."
A separate delegation from the U.S. State Department is expected to arrive later this week.
The meetings are expected to take place throughout the week with discussions likely to be held under extreme secrecy.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's largest Islamic party issued a fatwa, or religious legal ruling, Monday saying its members will start a holy war if U.S. troops enter the country.
The Jamiat Ulema Islam party received 5 percent of the vote in the last Pakistani national elections.
In addition, the United States and Pakistan signed an agreement Monday to reschedule $379 million in debt owed to the United States. The deal was signed at a ceremony by U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin and a Pakistani official.
Chamberlin said the package had been in the works since January and will lift some economic sanctions having to do with arrears in debt payments.
The Pakistani government also is believed to be looking forward to a document being prepared by either the Justice or State departments that was said to provide proof of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
On Sunday, President Bush lifted sanctions against Pakistan and India that were imposed after the two nations tested nuclear weapons in 1998.
For Pakistan, the lifting of sanctions is a reward for its cooperation in the U.S. showdown with Afghanistan.
The United States has asked for Pakistan's assistance in possible military operations against global terrorism.
Pakistan borders Afghanistan, where bin Laden is believed to be living.
Bush has called bin Laden a prime suspect in the deadly terror attacks that are believed to have claimed more than 6,000 lives and injured thousands more.
A Qatari-based news channel said Bin Laden sent a fax Monday calling on "Muslim brothers in Pakistan to use all their means to resist the invasion of the American crusader forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
Pakistani leaders have agreed to share intelligence information with the United States and have also said Washington can use Pakistani airspace.
But the use of Pakistani military bases would be problematic. Only as a last resort would Pakistan allow the United States to station equipment and troops inside the country.
Many hard-line Muslims in Pakistan support Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and have protested the decision by Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to cooperate with the United States.
In the fax, bin Laden reportedly called three Muslims who died last week in anti-U.S. protests in Pakistan the "first martyrs in the battle of Islam in this era against the new Jewish and Christian crusader campaign that is led by the Chief Crusader Bush under the banner of the cross."
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