New Pak regime to dump bullets for social support to extremists in new anti-terror strategy

August 20th, 2008 - 1:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad , Aug 20 (ANI): Amid severe criticism from the US over Pakistan s lack of commitment over the past few months to combat terror across Pak-Afghan border, the new democratic regime in Islamabad has plans to review the war on terror policy by discouraging people from taking to militancy and giving them greater social and economic support.

This was declared by Pakistan envoy in London Wajid Shamsul Hasan.

His comments came on Tuesday coinciding with growing speculation that former President Pervez Musharrafs resignation would bring new US pressure on the coalition government to demonstrate stronger resolve in fighting Islamist militancy, said an article in US daily the Financial Times.

We have to stop people from taking the road to militancy. The biggest flaw with Musharrafs policy was that he had placed too much emphasis on the military strategy alone. How can you win against your own people, and that, too, when they are opposed to you so strongly? the paper quoted Hasan as saying in a phone interview.

The risks to Pakistan s security from militants were highlighted yesterday when at least 25 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Dera Ismail Khan city bordering Afghanistan . Local police officials said the attack was carried out by hardline Sunni Muslim militants linked to al-Qaeda terrorists who targeted a group of mainly Shia Muslims standing outside the hospital.

Over the past few months, US and NATO forces in Afghanistan have lost more soldiers than at any time since their deployment in the country. The rising number of casualties has prompted criticism of Pakistan from the US and other western governments for its failure to block the 1500-mile border with Afghanistan . Western security officials say the border is routinely crossed by militants, said the article.

Hasans yesterdays remarks echoed critics who have opposed Islamabad s reliance on military operations to fight militants. Over the past year, the US intelligence agency CIA has increased the number of flights over Pakistan s border region of pilot-less drones armed with missiles.

For Pakistan , the main risk is, if casualties continue to rise in Afghanistan , you would have mounting pressure on the Americans to retaliate in the border areas. Pakistan might as well take charge of the area even if thats difficult right now. At least if your people feel you are trying to protect them, they may not be so disillusioned, said a senior western diplomat.

Abdul Qayyum, a former Pakistan army commander, said: reorienting the war on terror was necessary for the army as well. The army has fought in the border area for six years and they havent been able to curb the militants. Maybe it is time to win hearts and minds of local people and make them your allies. (ANI)

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