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Sincerity a Must For Winning the War On Terror

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Sincerity and honesty are the qualities which a person should have if he wants to achieve something. Our present rulers led by US President George W. Bush have neither of these qualities and this is the reason that they have been facing failure on the war front. Now there are reports of cracks in the coalition formed against terrorism by Bush. Pakistan has been showing anger over US attacks on the militants' position inside Pakistan's tribal areas. There is either a lack of coordination between the leadership of the two countries or they have been playing the game. But innocent people are being killed and maimed, while the terrorists have been increasing with each passing day. Most of the tribesmen think there is something wrong somewhere.

According to reports, the Pakistan Army lodged a formal protest on Friday to “allied forces” in Afghanistan over a suspected US missile strike this week that killed 14 people in Bajaur Agency.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said Pakistan concluded that Wednesday’s attack on a house in Damadola village was launched by drones from Afghanistan.

Abbas said a formal protest was lodged on Friday with “allied forces” in Afghanistan, an apparent reference to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force that is fighting the Taliban-led insurgency there.

The US is among the nations contributing to ISAF. Abbas said 14 people died in the attack. It was unclear if any foreign militants were killed because local tribesmen had sealed off the area in the aftermath and buried the victims, he said.

It was the first such strike since Pakistan’s new civilian government took power six weeks ago. The government’s response so far has been low-key, suggesting it may be extending the kind of cooperation to the US-led fight against al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, US officials in Washington said the Predator strike on Wednesday killed a handful of al-Qaeda militants, including one they described as a “significant leader.” The strike indicated that the CIA retained some freedom to operate in the tribal areas. But as the gap between Pakistani and American policies widens, United States officials are pushing harder for still more latitude, reported the New York Times.

According to the Times, the officials are making it increasingly clear that they have no interest in stopping cross-border attacks by militants into Afghanistan, prompting a new level of frustration from Americans who see the infiltration as a crucial strategic priority in the war in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday night, the United States fired its fourth Predator missile strike since January, the most visible symbol of the American push for a freer hand to pursue militants from al-Qaeda and the Taliban who US officials say use Pakistan’s tribal areas as a base to attack Afghanistan and plot terrorist attacks abroad.

According to The News editorial comment, the US has made clear its displeasure over ongoing attempts to reach deals with militants in FATA areas. A Pentagon official, using language harsher than that heard from Washington over the past few months, has also said Pakistan should make sure the deals are 'worth more than the paper they are written on.' Adopting the same tone, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher has said it would be unwise to make deals with militants that apparently give them an opportunity to regroup and re-strengthen while restricting the military. The US has also expressed obvious displeasure with the recent release of militants in exchange for about six soldiers, though a senior official of the NWFP government has already clarified that those released were not senior operatives and were more or less tribesmen.

US intervention in Pakistan's affairs, as this is a good example of, is almost always resented by most Pakistanis. To a very considerable extent such interference over the years has damaged Pakistan's interests, rather than having helped the country. Having said that, the fact of the matter is that it is in Pakistan's own interest to ensure that if any peace deal is to be considered with the militants, then the militants should be made to stick to their end of the bargain, and this should include the condition that no attacks should be launched in or outside Pakistan. Of course, this also means that a system for monitoring that this in fact happens needs to be put in place as well, and this may be a task in itself given the rugged and inhospitable nature of the long and winding Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

As Pakistan has learned to its cost, at least twice in the recent past, making deals with militants can be risky. On both of these occasions, the most recent in 2006, the militants did not lay down arms as they had promised and the regions under their control did in fact become sanctuaries for extremists and foreign terrorists. There is no guarantee this will not happen again.

The entire policy, in this regard, needs to be reviewed carefully. Whereas such ceasefires may offer temporary relief to the military, which has suffered losses in Waziristan over the past years, they offer no lasting solutions, especially since recent history has shown that they are indeed used by the militants to regroup and to gather their energies and resources to stage attacks across the border. This then angers NATO and ISAF, both of whom have troops in Afghanistan.

In this context, the strategy of cutting losses, which is perhaps what the deal entails for the Pakistan army, needs to be re-examined as well since such gains are only going to be short-lived, and there is no guarantee that at some point in time, the militants don't point their guns (and suicide bombers) back towards Pakistani territory. In the longer term, the only way that a peace deal can work is that (a) it should be strictly enforced and that (b) the region is placed on a priority footing in terms of socio-economic and infrastructure development.

It is this longer-term eradication of militancy that the state of Pakistan must strive for. Those engaged in violence must be stopped from carrying out their misdeeds -- anywhere -- for, failing this, there can be no hope of peace or an end to terrorism in the country.


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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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