Boucher backs Pak strategy of tackling extremism without talking to terrorists

June 12th, 2008 - 5:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington , June 12 (ANI): Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia , Richard Boucher has said that the Pakistani government appears to be heading towards an anti-terror strategy that aims at engaging the tribesmen, but involves no negotiations with terrorist elements.

Indirectly appreciating Pakistan governments move of indulging in talks with tribal leaders in FATA, and winning them over to its side, he said the Pakistan government did not want to have negotiations with terrorists that result in people getting released and more freedom of movement or action on the side of the militants.

Boucher also praised the meetings between Pakistani officials, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Afghan officials in Kabul .

So, that seems to be the direction policy is heading, but I dont think I can give you a definitive status at this point, the Daily Times quoted Boucher as saying in Washington .

He added: I think we all recognise, including the Pakistani government, that for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to be safe, we need to deal with these people on both the Pakistani and the Afghan side of the border. And, in some ways it boils down to the same issues on both the sides. Youre not going to stop the suicide bombings and the terrorist attacks until you get real control at the local level.

In a briefing on Afghan reconstruction, Boucher said the Pakistan-Afghanistan border territory required effective control through the military, police, good governance and the support of villagers and tribesmen. Some of the militant activity in Afghanistan was being supported from across the border, he added.

Continuing on the anti-terror policy, he said, And, that is being done in Afghanistan in certain ways, it is being done by the Government of Pakistan now, especially the new civilian government is looking at how to do that, how to extend security control, governance and economic development into the Tribal Areas. And were working with them, were talking to them, we want to support that. Were supporting a security development plan to develop the proper security forces to do that.

Regarding the peace talks between the government and the tribesmen, Boucher said, We see different reports. I would say we havent seen many reports of anything much happening there in terms of negotiations in recent days or weeks. The politicians have said they want to negotiate with tribes, not with terrorists. And, theyve tried to make that point that you do need to talk to the tribes to get the tribes on your side, but they do not want to have negotiations with terrorists that result in people getting released and more freedom of movement or action on the side of the militants. So, that seems to be the direction policy is heading, but I dont think I can give you a definitive status at this point.

We are not seeing much of the wrong kind of activity at this moment, he said, but added that it was too early to give a real judgment on this point. (ANI)

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