Pakistan, US agree on steps to confront militants

US National Security Advisor James Jones. File photo: AP.  

Pakistan and the United States on Wednesday agreed on “measures” to combat violent extremism and foil potential terrorist attack in the future.

The new plan was announced after a meeting between US National Security Advisor James L. Jones and US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Panetta with Pakistan’s top political and military leadership.

“The talks covered measures that both countries are, and will be, taking to confront the common threat we face from extremists and prevent such potential attacks from occurring again,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, accompanied by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, told the US officials that “militancy and terrorism was the common enemy” and called for more cooperation to “fight the menace.” Mr. Jones and Mr. Panetta arrived on Tuesday on a two—day trip to discuss the issue of Faisal Shehzad, the alleged perpetrator of a failed attempt to blow up an explosive—laden vehicle at New York’s landmark Times Square, and get more cooperation from Pakistan in counterterrorism efforts.

The arrest of Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, on terror charges sparked new debate in the US about Pakistan’s seriousness in uprooting the Taliban militancy from its territory.

The Times Square terror suspect frequently travelled to Pakistan.

His most recent trip lasted at least five months. However, the Pakistani intelligence community failed to spy on his activities during that time.

It is believed that he was recruited by the Pakistani Taliban, based in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. The group also provided him some training in explosive handling.

Shahzad’s actions show that Pakistanis who have settled in the US can be easily manipulated by militants into launching overseas attacks, creating a huge problem for security agencies.

The officials noted “the extreme challenge of thwarting each and every plot and terrorist action,” but “pledged to intensify efforts” to protect the people.

Pakistan has recently launched several military offensives along its Afghan border to purge those regions of militants. But it has, so far, failed to completely eliminate the rebels.

The US has expressed appreciation with Pakistan’s efforts, but has also demanded military action in North Waziristan, considered a stronghold of the Haqqani group, one of the oldest militant entities, with close ties to al—Qaeda and the Taliban.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 11:35:12 PM |

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