EU urges Pak to resist contact with Qaeda

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{image-al qaeda hunt_22042008.jpg}Islamabad, April 22: Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief of the European Union (EU) today urged the Pakistan Government to resist contact with al Qaeda, as the latter was operating outside Pakistan's laws and Constitution. When asked whether he supported the idea of Pakistan negotiating with al Qaeda, Solana firmly said: "The answer is no."

Pakistan's Western allies are concerned that any let-up in military pressure on militants in the semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun tribal lands will give al Qaeda breathing space to organize fresh attacks in the West. Pakistan's new coalition government is keen to move away from the policies pursued by President Pervez Musharraf, which ranged from military offensives to appeasement, and resulted in mounting violence over the past year.

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Musharraf has deployed close to 90,000 troops along the Pakistan-Afghan border to counter the threat from al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistani troops are seen by the tribals as trespassers. The new government wants to convince the tribals that their real enemies are the foreign militants and tribal renegades who have brought violence to their lands.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: "The government would want to give dialogue and reconciliation its utmost full chance." If this failed, other options would be brought into play, he added.

Qureshi also dismissed talk of any link between efforts to free Pakistan's kidnapped ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin and the release of Sufi Mohammad, a cleric and leader of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (Movement for Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law), who was freed on Monday.

Azizuddin was kidnapped, along with his driver, in February in Pakistan's Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border.

Advocating the need for industrialisation, Dr Singh said without it new opportunities for employment could not be provided to those who were not involved in agriculture. ''Industrialisation provides a way out of the process of agrarian change and agricultural development,'' he opined. The prime minister said over the past 25 years the share of agriculture in national income had come down due to rapid growth of new industries and the services sector.

''But there is no commensurate decline in the share of population dependent on agriculture,'' he said.

Dr Singh said townships like Bokaro and Jamshepdur came up during the first phase of Indian industrialisation and as the country had entered a new phase of change, it needed new centres that could create jobs and promote new industries.

The prime minister said the UPA government at the Centre had come forward with a humane industrialisation policy focusing on creating employment while ensuring that no one suffered or was displaced by the process of industrial development.

''The challenge before our country is to create such an environment in all regions so that industrial growth is more balanced across the states and we can increase total investment in the country,'' Dr Singh said while praising Tata Steel for setting an example of how progress could be made in an adverse situation.


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