THE TALIBAN CRACKDOWN REVISITED….Remember that Taliban honcho who was captured in Pakistan right after Dick Cheney read the riot act to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf last month? Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, isn’t impressed:

Clearly, the pressure is on. Western leaders are finally beginning to recognize that Musharraf’s regime has been unsuccessful in taming the Taliban, which has regrouped in the tribal areas of Pakistan while the military regime has given up trying to establish order on the Afghan border. At the same time, the regime has strategically chosen to help the United States when international criticism of the terrorists’ presence becomes strident. The arrest of Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a top Taliban strategist, by Pakistani authorities late last month is a case in point. The timing, right on the heels of American and British pleas for renewed toughness, is too convenient. Akhund was arrested solely to keep Western governments at bay.

Actually, it may be even worse than that. I don’t know anything about the Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick, but they claim that Akhund was never even arrested at all:

“The news is not true,” SonntagsBlick wrote. “The world press reported: top-Taliban imprisoned. At the same time he was sitting with a SonntagsBlick reporter having coffee.”

It said Akhund was one of 300 people present at [an Islamic school in the southwestern city of Quetta]. He then met with the reporter and explained his future strategy in Afghanistan, the Zurich-based paper said.

According to SonntagsBlick, Akhund’s “future strategy” is to kill as many Americans as possible. “We thirst for their blood,” they report him saying.

Very curious, no? And to be taken with a grain of salt for the moment, of course. But one wonders just who’s playing whom, doesn’t one?