This ABC report set off all sorts of alarm bells:

Osama bin Laden, America’s most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a “peaceful life,” Pakistani officials tell ABC News.

The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a “peace deal” with the Taliban.

If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden “would not be taken into custody,” Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, “as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen.”

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, but U.S. officials say his precise location is unknown.

In addition to the pullout of Pakistani troops, the “peace agreement” between Pakistan and the Taliban also provides for the Pakistani army to return captured Taliban weapons and prisoners.

“What this means is that the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership have effectively carved out a sanctuary inside Pakistan,” said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism director.

Pakistan has become a sanctuary for the Taliban. While that sanctuary exists Afghanistan cannot be stabilized. I suspect that Pakistan has figured that the Republicans are toast and that the Democrats will let things return to the cozy pre-9/11 status quo. Bush needs to act. I’d suggest a deal that gives US special forces free reign in Waziristan. Pakistan would be most upset if the US made India a partner in missile defense systems, for example.

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