Pakistan to raise additional 80,000 police to fight terrorism

March 28th, 2009 - 10:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Islamabad, March 28 (DPA) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Saturday his country was planning to raise an additional 80,000-strong constabulary to fight terrorism, as he welcomed US President Barack Obama’s new policy on Al Qaeda as a “positive change”.
Addressing Pakistan’s parliament, Zardari said a national counter-terrorism authority has been set up with the help of Friends of Pakistan, a group of rich Western and Arab countries, plus China, that is sponsored by the UN to provide financial assistance to Pakistan.

“The government will raise 20,000 additional police in each of the four provinces with special equipments and special pay package,” Zardari told the lawmakers.

His statement came a day after Obama announced a new strategy for the region that presses Islamabad to do more in its fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, particularly in the country’s mountainous tribal region along the Afghan border. Obama’s proposal would offer more financial aid to Pakistan.

Obama also indicated a possible reconciliation with elements of the Taliban willing to seek such an accommodation.

“I welcome President Obama’s call to the Congress to pass the bill for $1.5 billion aid to Pakistan every year,” said Zardari. He also called the US president’s new approach “a positive change.”

“It is an endorsement of our call for economic and social uplift as a means of fighting extremism,” he added.

“Pakistan has adopted a three-pronged strategy,” he said. “The strategy is based on peace with those willing to give up violence. But, at the same time, to deal firmly with those who challenge the writ of the government. It also aims at economic development of the affected areas.”

Zardari said his government will not allow “the use of its soil for terrorist activities against any other country.”

He also vowed to “not allow anyone to violate our sovereignty,” referring to the recently intensified missile attacks carried out by US drones on militant hideouts in the tribal regions.

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