Govt to stop referring Pak as ''frontline state'' in terror war

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 21 (PTI) Seeking an image makeover, thePakistan government has decided to stop referring to thecountry as a "frontline state in the war against terrorism" asit does not want to be perceived as the epicentre of themenace, according to a media report today.

"Descriptions like frontline state in war againstterrorism overcast the country''s positivities. Therefore, weare doing away with this phrase," a senior security officialwas quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

The phrase is "misleading" and creates an impressionthat the problem of terrorism is specific to this region,something which contradicts Pakistan''s position that it is aglobal phenomenon, the unnamed official said.

"We don''t want to be seen as the epicentre ofterrorism anymore," the official said.

The phrase gained currency after Pakistan joined theUS-led war on terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Top Pakistani leaders, including the President and thePrime Minister, frequently refer to the country as a"frontline state" in the campaign against terrorism in theirpublic speeches.

The report said that though the regime of militaryruler Pervez Musharraf and the current Pakistan People''sParty-led government had kept flaunting Pakistan''s sacrificesby portraying the country as the frontline state, there was"an acknowledgment in the government circles that the labelhas cost it dearly".

According to government estimates, Pakistan lostalmost USD 50 billion over the past 10 years and thousands ofcivilians and security personnel have been killed or maimedfor life.

"Instability, a shrinking economy, currencydevaluation, massive internal security expenses and loss ofinvestment and export markets are just some of themanifestations of the debilitating effects this phrase and thecountry�s alliance with the West has caused," the report said.

On the other hand, Western governments have beencontinuously "suggesting that Pakistan has benefited from itsrole as the frontline state through international aid andrescheduling of its debt".

The official said the shift did not symbolise a"dilution of the country''s commitment to counter-terrorismefforts".

Rising extremism and radicalisation of society areemerging as a bigger threat, he said.

The reaction to Governor Salman Taseer''s assassinationhas exposed "how precarious the situation was", he said.

"We may handle violence by resorting to force, butextremism is a state of mind that cannot be addressed by suchmeans," he said.

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