Saturday, 15 January 2011

Pakistan’s Afghan policy flawed, counterproductive, says Ahmed Rashid

Pakistan’s Afghan policy flawed, counterproductive, says Ahmed Rashid

Staff Report\01\14\story_14-1-2011_pg7_37

LAHORE: Pakistan’s Afghan policy is flawed and has proved to be counterproductive for the interests of the country, renowned author Ahmed Rashid said on Thursday.

He was speaking at a roundtable discussion, organised by Individual Land, a non-profit Islamabad-based think-tank, which reviewed the decade-long counter-terrorism struggle.

Journalist Khaled Ahmed, Lt Gen (r) Talat Masood, Imtiaz Gul and Naveed Shinwari also spoke on the occasion. Rashid said it was a time to say good-bye to the ‘double game’ that Pakistan had been playing in Afghanistan for a decade. He said Pakistan should wholeheartedly pursue the counter-terrorism struggle and should not be reluctant to go into North Waziristan. He said a coordinated and concerted political and military strategy was the need of the hour in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “The problem is that the army is the sole incharge of the policy in FATA whereas there has to be a significant civilian input in the process,” he said.

Lt Gen (r) Masood said Pakistan must decide now that whose war it was fighting. “If it is the US war than we would disengage ourselves from FATA and if it was Pakistan’s war then we must employ a concerted counter-insurgency strategy,” he said.

He said any counter-terrorism measure should be accompanied by a development package, especially for the education and employment sectors. Ahmed said terrorism had damaged the ideology of the state. “There are significant signs of eroding the state’s writ in rural areas of the country and if not stemmed now, this menace of terrorism will win and the country would lose this war,” he said. Ahmed said the Tribal Areas needed heavy investment in infrastructure.

Columnist Wajahat Masood said the country’s priorities as a nation-state had to be redefined. He said the Sri Lankan model of counter-insurgency would prove helpful in Pakistan. He said currently the institutions of the state were very weak to combat the huge challenge ahead. Gul said the consequences of losing this war on terror would be fatal for the country. He said all extremist networks under the guidance of al Qaeda were gaining strength and could only be defeated with a clear-cut vision of the state. The discussion was moderated by Shaukat Ali of Individual land.

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