Experts say US must strategically shift policy on Pak-based extremists

May 12th, 2008 - 5:22 pm ICT by admin  

Pervez Musharraf

Washington, May 12 (ANI): Experts and critics of the Bush administration’s policies in Pakistan, have called on it to undertake a strategic shift in dealing with extremists in the region.
Criticising Deputy Secretary of State John Negropontes call on Pakistan to drive extremism from its tribal areas, critics said his remarks exhibited Washingtons reluctance to changing quickly enough in response to altered political equations in Islamabad.
“There is growing consensus that … the war on terrorism must be maintained for the good of Pakistan. But the methodology which is to be used … has to be different,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted Tariq Fatemi, a retired member of the Pakistani Foreign Service, as saying here last week.
There is widespread pressure in the U.S. for Pakistan to use military options to address increased activity by extremist elements in the border region, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban, thought responsible for much of the rise in violence in neighbouring Afghanistan.
But experts like Fatemi want to see the US focus more on political and economic efforts and less on military options.
The US may also need to wean itself from its ties to Pervez Musharraf, who may not survive the political transition to the new government.
That would be the real test of a new American approach to Pakistan, according to Frederic Grare, a visiting scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
American officials, who have long ruled out negotiation with terrorists, fear that Islamabad may be talking to militant leaders such as Baitullah Mehsud, who runs a terrorist network suspected of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December.
Similar accords in 2005 and 2006 meant to reduce violence and stop cross-border attacks proved to be unenforceable and actually resulted in a spike of attacks in Afghanistan, American officials say.
The US holds that negotiations should only be held with tribal elders, not militants, and must be enforceable.
After experiencing an initial wave of goodwill from Pakistan following 9/11, the administration has become generally frustrated with the Pakistani government’s inability to address security along its borders. (ANI)

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