Australia set to read the riot act to Pakistan over war on terror

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Sydney, Sept 12 : The ongoing strife between the Islamic and tribal militants on the one hand and the US-led NATO forces, on the other, in Pakistani tribal areas along the Pak-Afghan border is not only a bilateral issue between the two countries, but had international community implications, said Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith who is currently on a visit to India.

He said that he wished to go to Pakistan next year to discuss with its government the "hot-bed" of international terrorism on that country's border with Afghanistan.

Rather than just being a bilateral issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the border activity had regional and international community implications, he said and added: "It also has serious implications for the nearly 1100 troops that we have in Afghanistan."

"I fully intend to go to Pakistan in the first half of next year to talk about these issues and also Australia's general relationship with Pakistan. It's quite clear that what's been occurring is that the extremists, the terrorists, the Taliban, move across that border for respite and then return," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Smith as saying.

Smith hailed new Pakistani President Asif Zardari's first press conference with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to make the point that he regarded peace at the Pak-Afghan border as his highest priority. "That's certainly welcome news for Australia. We do want to address this very serious and difficult issue," he said, and added: "It is absolutely essential for Pakistan to come to grips with this difficulty and from what the new president has been saying, and the rhetoric is there, and we hope it's met with concerted action and activity."

Meanwhile, Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has criticized the slow progress in Pak-Afghan war.

"The progress in Afghanistan is all too slow," Fitzgibbon said, and added he was "quite shocked" at the lack of coordination in planning and the command chain in Afghanistan, where a US-led coalition is working alongside a NATO-led international force to restore security.

"We have too few troops in Afghanistan. We certainly are not doing enough on Pakistan and those difficulties we have in the north-west border regions. So we've got a long way to go we are committed to the project because it is important to Australia's national security," he said.

ANI

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