Islamabad: NWFP may be lost, coalition leader warns

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The situation in the NWFP is extremely worrisome as the Wednesday’s meeting of coalition partners was warned in plain words that the Frontier province was on a fast track of breaking away from Pakistan because of Islamabad’s blind following of Washington’s war on terror.

A meeting participant told The News that while Maulana Fazlur Rehman cautioned the country’s top leadership that Pakistan was in the process of losing the Frontier province, the ANP-led NWFP government too admitted that the local Taliban had extended their influence to most parts of the settled districts, including even those surrounding the provincial capital.

“I am telling you that the Frontier province is breaking away from Pakistan,” the worried JUI-F leader announced in the meeting, adding that he did not understand the rationale for putting the integrity of our own country at risk just to please the United States.

A presentation given by the Frontier government on the situation in the province, too, was quite disturbing for those who attended the meeting. According to the source, the Frontier government conceded that the influence of the Taliban had grown tremendously and extended to many parts of the settled districts of the province. The local Taliban, the meeting was told, had now the capacity to create trouble in the districts of Charsadda, Mardan and Hangu, which surround the provincial capital Peshawar.

In the south and north of Peshawar, their presence is felt, thus, creating alarms for the authorities. The PML-N representatives, led by Mian Shahbaz Sharif, too, expressed their complete dissatisfaction over the ongoing policy on the war on terror and urged that there was a dire need for making a national policy to meet the growing threat of extremism and terrorism. The meeting was told that President Musharraf’s eight-year policy to deal with such issues with the barrel of gun had put Pakistan’s future at stake.

Among the coalition partners, the PML-N and the JUI-F asked for an immediate review of Islamabad’s policy on the war on terror and insisted that the issue must be brought before parliament for detailed and extensive debate to formulate a home grown national policy on the issue.

The meeting was also told that what President Musharraf had done to this country should not be pursued. The meeting agreed that to win the hearts and minds of the people, the political leadership had to take important decisions on the basis of what parliament would suggest for the internal security of the country. The issue of extremism and terrorism, the meeting further agreed, should be taken as a case of Pakistan’s internal security and be addressed through the policy of engagement, dialogue and administrative steps.

The source though said that the meeting did not discuss anything regarding the prime minister’s forthcoming visit to the United States, it however, expected that the future interaction between Pakistan and the United States on the war on terror would be in line with the decision taken by the top coalition partners on Wednesday in the Islamabad meeting that was also attended by the Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, the DG ISI, the DG IB and others.

The Army chief, the source said, also fully endorsed the decisions taken by the political leadership of the country. The source said that he found the Army chief a professional soldier, who was not interested in politics and wanted the politicians to lead.
Source: The News, 25/7/2008

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