Pak caught between devil and deep sea over tackling terror in FATA

April 14th, 2009 - 6:23 pm ICT by ANI  

Richard Holbrooke Washington, Apr.14 (ANI): Pakistan, it seems, is caught between the devil and deep sea in its commitments to the US-led war on terror in its lawless areas.

The options before it are to agree to the US demands for joint military strikes in the FATA areas, failing which it may have to settle for the “regional approach”, that will see India play a major role in deciding how the menace of terrorism should be met in the volatile region.

The United States is expected to utilize the diplomatic skills of its special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to convince Islamabad for a joint military offensive against extremists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), when all the three countries meet for a second level of trilateral talks in May here.

While America has expressed serious concern over the dangerous expansion of militants writ in FATA and been urging Pakistan for a combine military operation, the Pakistani leadership fears any such operation would prove ruinous for the government.

Not only this, they believe that the US forces can not challenge the might of extremists in the rough terrains of the region.

So, now Pakistan may push for the original idea of the regional approach to the tackle the issue, which involved India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to resolve the major issue confronting the region, including Kashmir, a provision which was retracted afterIndia had backed off from the discussions saying it does not want to participate in any meeting where the Kashmir issue is discussed.

Islamabad has also been complaining about Obama’s proposal of a contact group involving India to deal with the problem of rising extremism along in the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

It sees the proposal as a compromise in their sovereignty by involving other nations in an internal issue, the FATA insurgency.

Furthermore, Pakistan is against the US proposal which required it to recognise India as an important player in Afghanistan, without seeking any assurance from New Delhi.

Pakistani diplomats are of the view that Obama administration must restrain from taking any major move at a time when all the three countries India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are holding elections.

“What you hear during the election season is election rhetoric. You cannot expect a breakthrough during an election season,” The Dawn quoted a diplomat, as saying.

Amidst all concerns, Pakistan has welcomed the proposed trilateral talks, as it hopes the dialogue would reduce the prevailing distrust and tensions among the three allies, the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, on the other hand sees no change in its relations with neighbour Pakistan.

“Pakistani security institutions do not see extremism and terrorism as a serious threat to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the world, they see India as the main threat. We have not seen any indications that the support by these institutions to militant groups has discontinued. The support is going on,” Afghan ambassador in Washington Said Jawad said. (ANI)

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