WASHINGTON: A US and a Canadian daily found Pakistan’s new efforts against terrorism ‘encouraging’ and said US should respond accordingly. An editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin noted that the anti-Taliban lashkars are poorly armed with aging rifles, while Taliban fighters are equipped with rocket launchers and heavy guns. “However, newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari this month arranged for the purchase of assault rifles and other small arms from China to better arm the lashkars.” The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, said that besides encouraging volunteer militias against Taliban, The Pakistani military has also accepted nearly three dozen US special forces trainers to help improve the effectiveness of their own counterterrorism forces. “Both, admittedly, are but small first steps. But at least they are steps in the right direction,” the Post stresses. The Canadian daily alleges: “Our troops have occasionally witnessed Pakistani agents and border guards loading Taliban trucks or cheering them on as they drive over the Pakistan border and into Afghanistan.” “Since General Musharraf resigned earlier this year, the situation in the tribal regions has worsened, and there have emerged hints that the mood in Islamabad has changed,” the editorial states. khalid hasan (Daily Times)
New Pakistani effort against terrorists encouraging: US daily
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Recent actions taken by the new democratic leadership of Pakistan give encouraging signs of a new effort against the terrorists, and the US should respond accordingly, says an editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Noting that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban have found a haven in the northwestern territories of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, the newspaper recalled that last month President Bush had authorised strikes by US troops into Pakistan from Afghanistan and Sen Barack Obama had called for such action more than a year ago, with or without Pakistan’s approval, in cases of “actionable intelligence” about terrorist targets in the region. The newspaper argued that ideally, Pakistani forces would carry out the offensives, but anti-Taliban militias or lashkars are poorly armed with aging rifles, while Taliban fighters are equipped with rocket launchers and heavy guns. “However, newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari this month arranged for the purchase of assault rifles and other small arms from China to better arm the lashkars,” the editorial noted.
While pointing out that the US has spent more than $10 billion in counterterrorism assistance to Pakistan’s military since 2001, the newspaper admitted that Americans are widely distrusted by Pakistanis. Changes in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which has been “aiding terrorists,” are encouraging, said the editorial, while taking note of the fact that the new government had replaced the head of that agency with a new chief (now in Washington for meetings with CIA director Michael V Hayden). Recalling that Gen David H Petraeus this week becomes head of the US Central Command, in charge of US forces in the Middle East and South and Central Asia, the Honolulu daily suggested that he should regard coordination of military objectives with Pakistan’s non-military needs as essential for a new approach to be successful. (Daily Times)