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Is President Bush Losing War on Terrorism?

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There was a time when Taliban and terrorists were declared enemies of the whole of humannity and a full-scale war was launched across the entire  world.

The US administration has put all the world at stake for saving the world from further destruction. That was the right decision as elimination of terrorism was a must for saving the world from further destruction. But the US has chosen wrong allies and this was the reason that now the impression has been created that terrorists have been winning the war.

Formation of a committee for holding talks with Taliban and terrorists was a bolt from the blue for the people of tribal areas according to them, now the rulers have again been trying to impose Taliban and terrorists on them.

According to them, holding talks with criminals was illegal and unethical. The criminals, they may Taliban or other people, must be brought to the book and tried in the court of law --  maybe in the United States or tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border.

The speeches of both Pakistani and Afghan leaders have annoyed the people of tribal areas. According to a newspaper report, The Taliban are a part of Afghan society and those among them who are not committed to endless violence must be brought into the political mainstream, President Gen Pervez Musharraf said in an address to the concluding session of the Pak-Afghan Peace Jirga on Sunday.

“We must understand the environment. Taliban are a part of Afghan society. Most of them may be ignorant and misguided, but all of them are not diehard militants and fanatics who even defy the most fundamental values of our culture and our faith Islam,” Gen Musharraf said.

He said that military action was necessary against Al Qaeda militants and Taliban diehards who refused to reconcile, but a more comprehensive political and development approach was needed to defeat extremism and ‘Talibanisation’. “Talibanisation and extremism ... represent a state of mind and require a more comprehensive long-term strategy where military action must be combined with a political approach and socio-economic development,” he said.

More importantly, he said, the population that appears to be sympathetic to the Taliban is not militant. “Our approach must be focussed on isolating those diehard militants who reject reconciliation and peace. Here, it is a question of winning hearts and minds,” he said.

He said the success of the Afghan jirga delegates in achieving peace in their country would “depend on political engagement and understanding in reaching out to the people”.

Iqbal Khattak adds: Shortly before Gen Musharraf’s speech, jirga delegates were handed copies of a joint declaration in which both Afghanistan and Pakistan vowed to pursue “an extended, tireless and persistent campaign against terrorism” and not to allow terrorists sanctuaries or training centres on their soil.

Calling the declaration a “stepping stone” towards peace, Gen Musharraf told the jirga: “Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan has also witnessed the rise of militancy and violence attacking our society. We cannot remain mired in the past.”

He conceded that there was support from the Pakistani tribal areas for the insurgency in Afghanistan and extremism. Pakistan understood it had a “solemn responsibility” to fight against such influences, he said.

The declaration said the jirga resolved to constitute a smaller jirga of 25 members from each side to “monitor and oversee the implementation of the decisions/recommendations” made at the joint Pak-Afghan jirga. Delegates also approved of dialogue and reconciliation with “opposition”, an indirect reference to the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Talking to reporters on his return to Islamabad, Gen Musharraf termed the joint declaration and formation of the 50-member jirga “a good beginning” for a peace process.

Gen Musharraf and Mr Karzai discussed cooperation against terrorism and the outcome of the jirga in one-on-one meetings before and after the conclusion of the jirga.

Over 600 delegates attended the Pak-Afghan grand jirga from both countries. The participants discussed means to strengthen bilateral relations. They also considered working out an effective mechanism to arrest the increase in poppy cultivation, processing and trafficking and underlying connection between terrorism and drug trafficking in the region.

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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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