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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Taliban militants declared their peace deal with the Pakistani government "worthless" on Monday after authorities deployed helicopters and artillery against hide-outs of Islamist guerrillas seeking to extend their grip along the Afghan border.
The regions that straddle that frontier form a "crucible of terrorism," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said during a visit to Afghanistan, where his country and the U.S. have thousands of troops. In Pakistan later Monday, Brown said Britain wanted to work more closely with Islamabad to eliminate the terror threat.
President Asif Ali Zardari called for more foreign support for cash-strapped Pakistan to prevent any danger of its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of al-Qaida and its allies.
Zardari also said Pakistani intelligence thought Osama bin Laden — recently offered sanctuary by militants in the area covered by the peace pact — might be dead, but said there was no evidence of the al-Qaida chief's demise.
"He may be dead. But that's been said before," Zardari told a group of reporters. "It's still between fiction and fact."
Zardari said the government possessed the will to fight the militancy, but there were some areas where the capability needed to be strengthened and in this connection the international community could play a significant role.
Referring to the Swat peace deal, the president said it was signed by the Frontier government with the local religious leaders in Swat and thus needed to be placed in correct perspective before the international community.