Washington, February 11 : Former Pakistan Army Chief General Jehangir Karamat has said that extremists are now spreading beyond far away mountainous tribal areas.
"The Talibans of Pakistan now operates in Swat, Bano, Waziristan and other areas. The extremists run about 260 madrassas in those areas. Out of which 80 are known to be active in training and preparing students for suicide missions," he said.
The traditional tribal leadership has been eliminated and extremists have secured control around the areas where they operate, General Karasaid during a panel discussion on the future of US-Pakistan strategic relationship hosted by the Brookings Institutions.
The panelists included General Karamat, General Anthony Zinni, who served as Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) from 1997 to 2000; and Richard Armitage, former US Deputy Secretary of State.
General Karamat urged that it is imperative to analyse what Pakistani government has done in the last five years and find out the reasons to why extremists have become stronger and where military logistics has failed.
He said US's overt and covert role in attacking al-Qaeda and Taliban is not going to work out. In fact, al-Qaeda wants that, as it will help it to recruit more people. However, military action by Pakistan military will be successful, he added.
He recommended three-prong strategy consisting of military action, development of tribal areas, and revival of tribal "jirgas". General Anthony Zinni strongly professed military-to-military relationship between U.S. and Pakistan, and praised Pakistan's Army and military general, who impressed him very much with their performance in Somalia.
He emphasised personal relationship between Pakistani and US generals, which at most of the time has worked out much better than civil diplomatic channels.
General Zinni went on to say that his personal relationship with Musharraf and top generals has helped resolve many sticky situations.
"Musharraf is a patriot. He has always meant and did well for Pakistan. He made some mistakes but his intentions are good," he said.
eanwhile, Richard Armitage criticised that some people want Pakistan to be viewed as four countries.
He remarked that indeed some of these regional and ethnic differences make governance very difficult in Pakistan.
Talking about extremism, Armitage said recent polls in Pakistan show that affection for extremism is down but passion for violence in those who favour extremism is up.
He said every one should realise that the democracy in Pakistan is a journey and process and an end itself.
In addition to free and fair elections, people of Pakistan also want reforms to address regional and ethnic inequities and reform for independence of judiciary and other institutions, Armitage said.
They also want an equitable solution to the issue of Kashmir. He said that it does not pay to publicly put pressure on General Musharraf to allow U.S. forces to fight terrorists on Pakistani territory, he added.
"Unfortunately Musharraf does not have a good "brain trust" around him and appears to have some rash persons around him, who give him solutions that at best are temporary bandages that too often at a long-term peril," Armitage said. eplying to question on how much money Pakistan has spent on making nuclear bomb and on the command and control system to protect nuclear bombs, General Karamat said: "I have no idea how much money has been spent but I can assure you the nuclear weapons are very secured."