Pak has lost battle against terrorism in FATA, US Congress told

November 14th, 2007 - 2:01 am ICT by admin  
Experts appearing before the House Armed Services Committee also noted that the US has been publicly involved in arranging a power-sharing deal in Pakistan, which may hurt its image if the arrangement fails.

Dr Marvin Weinbaum of Washington’s Middle East institute told the committee that the US has put additional pressure on Musharraf.

“Let me suggest, however, that increasingly this pressure has been counter-productive,” he added.

Dr Weinbaum said that the actions Musharraf took under pressure had not only fallen short “but have had the double-barrelled effect of intensifying opposition within the frontier region and also eroding his political support in the country.”

“Most of us who look at Pakistan believe at this point in time (believe) that Pakistan has in the north-west frontier area lost the battle against extremism and terrorism.

“And the consequences … are quite considerable for the US, for our success in dealing with the insurgency in Afghanistan, stabilising that country, and of course uprooting the al Qaeda network and the spread of Islamic extremism in Pakistan,” he said.

“I’m concerned that our policy toward Pakistan has not been as comprehensive as it should be,” said the committee’s chairman, Congressman Ike Skelton.

“We may be unprepared to handle the repercussions if events in Pakistan continue to move as rapidly as they have in recent years,” he added.

The powerful committee, which oversees US military policies, invited a host of experts to speak on “security challenges involving Pakistan and policy implications for the US Department of Defence.”

Congressman Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican member of the committee, however, noted that Pakistan is committed to the war against terror, and has deployed nearly 100,000 troops in the tribal.

But “there’s been information that I’ve seen to the effect that most of that corps resides in garrison and is not undertaking what one might call aggressive operations,” he added.

Teresita Schaffer, a former US Ambassador and now Director of the South Asia programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told the committee that in the past six months, President Musharraf has been seriously weakened.

And “the major non-religious political figures, in my view, have been diminished; and the US has been publicly involved in the deal-making leading to Pakistan’s next government,” she observed.

Ambassador Schaffer warned that the government that follows these elections is likely to be an uneasy one.

“Musharraf will be one power centre. He believes in unity of command … and is not particularly interested in power-sharing. Both his political party and perhaps the army will be strongly tempted to manipulate the elections to minimise Bhutto’s claim on power,” she said.

“If Bhutto does participate in government, she will strongly defend her turf. And assuming that Musharraf retires from the army, that institution will be under new leadership and will be a distinct power centre, no matter how careful Musharraf has been to promote officers loyal to himself,” she said. (ANI)

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