Zardari seeks more foreign aid to fight terror

February 19th, 2009 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 19 (IANS) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has urged the international community to enhance Pakistan’s ability to fight militancy through a massive infusion of funds targeted at socio-economic development, education and employment, particularly in the tribal areas even as a key parliamentary panel has urged a peace deal with the Taliban in the country’s northwest.
Noting that more than half of the country’s 170 million population comprised youth below the age of 25, Zardari said: “Their frustration with the current socio-economic situation and unemployment is creating a breeding ground for social unrest and militancy in the country.”

Zardari’s comments came during a meeting with Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, Britain’s shadow minister for national security.

On its part, the parliament’s committee on National Security has endorsed the Swat peace deal and also asked the US to stop violating Pakistan’s airspace and halt its drone attacks against militants in the tribal areas.

“The peace deal in Swat is in line with the consensus resolution of the in-camera joint session of parliament and it will not lead to Talibanisation,” The News Thursday quoted committee chairman Raza Rabbani as saying while talking to newsmen after a meeting of the panel here.

“The schools will be reopened and girls will get their schools while the people will enjoy the positive impact of peace,” he added.

The federal government had Monday approved a peace deal between the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) of radical cleric Sufi Mohammad under which Shariat law would be introduced in seven districts of the province, including the Swat valley the Taliban controls.

The cleric is currently in Swat for talks with his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, who heads the local Taliban in the area.

President Asif Ali Zardari, who Sunday gave the go-ahead for signing the deal, said he would endorse it only if the Taliban laid down their arms and peace returned to the region.

Rabbani termed as baseless the apprehensions expressed by the international community on the peace deal, pointing out that the government was pursuing a three “D” policy of dialogue, development and deterrence - and the peace pact was in line with this.

“There was a precedent of such kind of agreements in the world such as the accord between the Irish Republican Army and Britain,” he pointed out.

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