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Can Pakistan Afford To Withdraw From Coalition Against Terrorism?

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The new leadership emerging after the election has been calling for withdrawal from the coalition against terrorism. But in truth, it can do nothing as now Pakistan is on the hit list of terrorists.

According to Nation comment: General Kayani's briefing to government and ruling coalition leaders is for two reasons an indicator that the centre of gravity is gradually shifting from the Presidency to the Prime Minister's House.

First is the venue of the meeting and the second the absence of President Musharraf. Under the system devised by the latter that remained in place till the handing over of power to the present government, it was inconceivable for any briefing of the sort to be held at the Prime Minister's House or be presided over by anyone except the President. The meeting has also underlined the redundancy of the NSC for taking up momentous issues connected with national security, raising hopes that it would be soon dispensed with.

The policy on the War On Terror formulated under President Musharraf has failed to produce the desired results. Militancy has continued to spread and no city in the country is safe from attacks by suicide bombings. The briefing indicates the recognition of a separation between the institution which takes policy decisions and those required to implement them. Only a political government, viewing the security situation in its entirety rather than from a myopic military angle, can formulate a feasible policy. One hopes the briefing would help the government and alliance leaders evolve a more comprehensive view on the issue.

There is a need now to take the matter to the National Assembly after it has been properly thrashed out in the relevant parliamentary committee to formulate a comprehensive policy. One hopes that the coalition government representing all major trends and enjoying more than a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly would be able to persuade the militants to take to peace.

This would help extricate the Army from the quagmire where it has been pushed through wrong policies. One also hopes the new government would fulfil its promise of withdrawing the Army from Balochistan, release political prisoners and persuade militants to return to peaceful parliamentary politics.

Under the present government the FO has finally gotten courage to tell Washington plainly that any 'irresponsible and dangerous' military action in the tribal areas would be considered aggression. This is a happy departure from the past. There is also a growing respect for the newly-elected government abroad.

Speaking ahead of a formal NATO summit in Bucharest, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has recognised that NATO was misled by the previous government in Islamabad that democracy would inflame the radicals in Pakistan. Recognising that military-to-military dialogue is not enough, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said he would soon visit Islamabad to hold talks with the new leadership. This constitutes a welcome recognition of the new ground realities in Pakistan and indicates respects for a democratic set-up.
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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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