Pak's new "going-it-alone militarily" anti-terror roadmap leaves no room for US strikes

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Washington, Oct 2 : In the backdrop of the recent US' incursions on Pakistani soil, the country's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has vouched for a new strategy for battling terrorism that emphasizes on going-it-alone militarily within Pakistani borders and talking with the extremists if they lay down their arms.

"It hurts us even more when the transgressor is our friend and ally, the US. If there are actions to be taken, the actions will be taken by Pakistan. ... I can understand the U.S. frustration. Things are going badly in Afghanistan," the Dawn quoted Quereshi as saying while addressing around 250 people during an hour-long speech at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

He added: "US troops are going into Pakistan in hot pursuit to threaten the elements that threaten Pakistan. This is certainly one way of looking at this matter. However, the Pakistani public rightly sees some attacks as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. I must therefore confess to a degree of bewilderment that Pakistan is seen more as a problem in some US circles than as a partner in this defining struggle of our times."

The government's new "roadmap" also includes a media campaign to explain the importance to Pakistan's people of winning the war against extremists in tribal areas around neighboring Afghanistan, Qureshi said.

Pakistan's fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida militants comes years after the US and Pakistani intelligence helped create the Taliban militia. Pakistan was also one of the few countries that gave diplomatic recognition to the Taliban's fundamentalist rule in Afghanistan.

"We are willing to take on the Taliban because we feel the Taliban are imposing a way of life on Pakistan that is not acceptable. We've agreed on a roadmap for the next few months," Qureshi said on the occasion.

He said that Pakistan will now "engage politically with the moderates, those who are willing to give up arms" and will "concentrate on the social, economic development" of the tribal belt. "We will also use calibrated force. This is the new strategy that we have adopted," he added.

Over the recent weeks, Washington has signaled its impatience with Pakistani efforts to eliminate militants implicated in attacks in Afghanistan, carrying out a series of suspected US missile attacks as well as at least one cross-border ground assault in Pakistan's volatile northwest. U.S. and Pakistani forces recently traded fire in one skirmish.

A suspected US missile strike on a Taliban commander's home in Pakistan this week killed six people, officials said Wednesday, a possible indication that Washington is moving ahead with cross-border raids despite protests from the new government.

ANI

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