London, May 29 : Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called on the U.S. and NATO to review its counter-terrorism policy in the region.
In an interview with The Times Gilani said that his Government would pursue a multi-pronged strategy to combat terrorism since the past strategy, centred on military assaults, had failed to produce the desired results.
Gilani said that use of only military means could not bring peace in the volatile tribal region, which according to Western intelligence agencies has become al-Qaeda's main centre of operations.
"We need to review our strategy to deal with the situation in the tribal region." he said.
His remarks are likely to cause concern in Washington and London. They suspect that any deal between the Pakistani authorities and leaders in the tribal areas will weaken government authority in the area and strengthen Islamic militants.
Gilani, who heads a fragile coalition Government led by the Pakistan People's Party, said that political dialogue with tribesmen was a part of his Government's three-pronged strategy against terrorism.
He said that the Government was talking only to the tribesmen who renounced violence and surrendered their weapons.
But U.S. and NATO officials said that the peace deals had allowed the Taleban and al-Qaeda militants time to regroup and execute more attacks across the border in Afghanistan and plot terror strikes in the West.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has urged Pakistan on Tuesday to prevent a further spill over of violence from its border region into Afghanistan and called for stronger political dialogue between Pakistan and the US-led alliance.
The latest in a series of accords was a peace deal signed yesterday between the Government and a Taleban group in the Mohamand tribal region of Pakistan, near the Afghan border. The deal includes a pledge from the militants not to attack security and government officials, a spokesman said.
Both sides also swapped prisoners. Details about the number of prisoners exchanged were, however, not disclosed. The militants had been holding some government officials.
Fazal Manan Kodakhel, a spokesman for the militants, said that Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the umbrella Taleban movement in Pakistan, backed the deal.
The Government has also been engaged in peace negotiations with the militant leader. Last week the authorities released dozens of militants, and reduced troop numbers as part of an effort to end violence in the volatile South Waziristan region.
The 15-point accord being negotiated calls for the cessation of hostilities. Under the agreement, regular troops would be pulled out from the tribal areas and replaced by paramilitary forces known as the Frontier Corps.
Gilani said Pakistani forces would stay on the borders.
Mehsud has provided a sanctuary for fighters to operate in Afghanistan. He is said to command about 20,000 militants, with a majority of them from the Mehsud tribe. He has been blamed for masterminding suicide attacks in Pakistani cities, mostly targeting army personnel and installations.
While he may be prepared to make peace with Islamabad, he made it clear this week that he would not halt attacks against Afghanistan.
Talking to journalists at his mountain base, Mehsud vowed to keep up cross-border attacks. "We will not accept any deal which puts a restriction on our fighters to fight the US forces in Afghanistan," he declared.
While the security situation in Afghanistan continues to occupy the Government, confrontation between the coalition and President Musharraf has led to internal instability eight weeks after its formation.