Swat operation "unprecedented", Pak's attitude towards Taliban changed : Obama

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Washington, July 25 (ANI): Terming the Pakistan Army's offensive against the Taliban and other extremist groups in Swat and Malakand Divisions of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as "unprecedented", US President Barack Obama has said Pakistan is seriously trying to reassert its control in the lawless region.

In an interview with a private television channel, Obama said it was the first time the Pakistan Army has directly countered threat posed by the extremists.

"I think that at this point what you've seen is the Pakistani military step up in a way that we have not seen. I mean, they are engaged in a battle against Al Qaeda allies in that region and are trying to reassert control in areas that have become lawless," Obama said.

Obama said there has been a clear change in Pakistan's attitude towards the Taliban, which until recently utilized the insurgents to its "strategic advantage".

"I think that the Pakistani government in the past has tried to take the tiger by the tail and in some cases use militants to their strategic advantage. And I think they now realize that that was a mistake and my hope is that we're going to see them continue to seriously take the threat as a danger to Pakistan," The Daily Times quoted Obama, as saying.

Obama, however, expressed concerns over the exodus due to the Swat offensive, and urged the international community to carry on their support to Pakistan.

"You're seeing the displacement of a lot of people in those battle zones. And I'm very worried that are we, as an international community, adequately helping Pakistan to deal with those people who've been displaced," Obama said.

"We don't want that to be a new recruitment tool for radicals saying that, you know, you've been chased out of your home because of Pakistan. We have to be very careful about the potential use of that kind of propaganda," he added.

Commenting on the Afghan war, Obama termed Al Qaeda as a "non-state actor" saying he would not use the term 'victory' against the outlawed organization as US' objective in Afghanistan.

"I'm always worried about using the word 'victory' because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing surrender to MacArthur. We're concerned with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. So when you have a non-state actor, a shadowy operation like Al Qaeda, our goal is to make sure they can't attack the US," he said. (ANI)

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