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US lawmaker criticises Pakistan's unwillingness to crack down terror

Written by: Staff
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Washington, Sep 14 (UNI) Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr, has criticised the Pakistan government's unwillingness to crack down on terrorists within their nation.

''I have serious concerns that unless the Pakistani government is able to crackdown on their militant-infested borders, we will never be able to capture Osama bin Laden and his associates and bring them to justice,'' he said in a speech in the US House of Representatives.

Mr Pallone, who is one of the founders and former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said, ''Pakistan has become a key US ally in the war against terrorism, it is still known to be a staging ground for terrorism.'' ''General Musharraf has been praised as an important ally in the war against terrorism, giving the impression that he and his government share the US perception about terrorism being a shared threat.'' He, however, said President Musharraf was only willing to fight terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda to the extent of securing US assistance and worldly praise. ''He is still unwilling to clamp down on Jihadi groups within Pakistan's borders that may or may not be connected with al-Qaeda, but are still a part of the bigger problem,'' Mr Pallone said.

The lawmaker recalled US officials saying for some time Osama bin Laden is believed to be in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.

''In fact, every senior al-Qaeda leader who has been captured since September 11, 2001 has been run to the ground in Pakistan.

Ironically, Pakistan is also where al-Qaeda was founded by bin Laden in 1988,'' he said.

''The premise that bin Laden is hiding out in Pakistan has great substance. There are thousands of US and international troops inside neighbouring Afghanistan, but none are able to go into Pakistan.

That is because the government does not allow foreign troops on its territory. So bin Laden is safe from US forces because they cannot actively pursue him. Yet, Pakistan won't make a concerted effort to find him either,'' Mr Pallone said.

''To make things worse,'' Mr Pallone pointed out, ''Pakistan has signed a truce with militants in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region; an area that is believed to be harbouring bin Laden and other al-Qaeda surviving leadership. It is also where the Taliban originally emerged. The agreement allows the militants to remain in the area as long as they promise to halt attacks.'' ''The US must proceed with caution with Pakistan. Even though it has helped in the capture of some of al-Qaeda's leadership, these efforts are nothing more than superficial attempts at camaraderie,'' he said.

''The fact remains, Pakistan cannot be wholly trusted as a legitimate supporter of US goals and interests in South Asia, until it proactively disarms all militias and dismantles the Jihad infrastructure,'' he said.

UNI XC SHB MIR HT1155

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