Musharraf tells Abizaid where to get off
Pakistan and the US Wednesday furthered cooperation, inter alia, in the field of intelligence sharing against terrorists, although difference of opinion persisted regarding management of Pak-Afghan border in the war on terror, The Nation learnt.
Visiting Commander US Central Command General John P. Abizaid called on President Pervez Musharraf and exchanged views chiefly on the performance of trilateral commission in addition to underlining furtherance of Pak-US defence ties, well-placed officials told The Nation on condition of anonymity.
General John P Abizaid is currently on a two-day official visit to Pakistan. It, however, is not a scheduled visit, as Abizaid has rushed to Pakistan on the orders of US President George Bush. As CENTCOM chief, Abizaid is the most senior uniformed commander of the American forces in Afghanistan. These forces have been trying in line with the Afghan forces to block the border.
The Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) stated that President Musharraf has told the US General that anti-terror efforts on the Pak-Afghan border need enhanced coordination and most importantly, there was a need to bolster security measures on the Afghan side of the border, it added.
According to the sources, two sides could hardly reach a unanimous position over the issue of latest accusations about infiltration and existence of terrorists by Afghanistan and Pakistans response in terms of indicating problems in the Afghan defence intelligence mechanism.
Although the US side was not to accept Pakistani position in an outright manner, President Musharraf has made it clear that any operation within its territories would be carried out by the Pakistani forces alone, the sources added.
Meanwhile, the official media reported that during the meeting, the President discussed with the CENTCOM chief the situation on the western borders, cooperation between Pakistan and United States in the ongoing war against terrorism and matters pertaining to intelligence sharing, ways to further intensify efforts in intelligence sharing and speedy exchange of information.
Recently, there has been an exchange of statements between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Musharraf over intelligence sharing. Musharraf slammed Karzai in an interview with CNN on Sunday, saying he was oblivious to events in his own country and blasting intelligence provided by Kabul about the presence of Taliban leaders in Pakistan as nonsense.
Referring to the successes Pakistan has achieved in anti-terror war, President Musharraf said that over 80,000 troops deployed in the countrys border with Afghanistan have effectively checked cross-border infiltration and destroyed several sanctuaries through targeted operations against militants.
Stressing the need to bolstering security measures on the Afghan side of the border, the President called for greater coordination and sharing of actionable intelligence in real time to achieve the desired objectives.
The US CENTCOM chief said that Pakistan, which is the frontline state in the war on terror, has done more than any other country in combating terrorism and referred to the sacrifices rendered by the Pakistani security forces in operation against terrorists in the border region.
He said Pakistan is playing a critical role to fight against terrorism and promote peace in the region and the world at large in weeding out the menace of terror.
Earlier, the US CENTCOM chief visited the General Headquarters and met with the Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Ahsan Hayat and discussed with him matters of professional interest. They also discussed ways and means to further increase cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries.
Later on President Musharraf told the representatives from the tribal areas that foreign militants would not be allowed to stay on countrys soil and locals harbouring these extremist elements would also face the music.
A 16-member delegation of tribal elders from FATA who called on the President along NWFP governor while the President urged them to come up to their national responsibility to ensure that foreign elements did not take refuge in their areas.
President also told the tribal elders that he has made it clear to all other allies that only Pakistani troops were responsible for carrying out operation against terrorists on the countrys soil, officials told The Nation.
According to the officials, the tribal leaders appeared to be in full confidence and compliance to the governments policies and assured their fullest cooperation in ridding the region of foreign militants and terrorists. They also assured the President that people of the tribal region are peace loving and desired progress and development of their areas.
President General Pervez Musharraf expressed firm commitment to the overall development of the tribal areas and said the government was considering setting up reconstruction opportunities zones aimed at generating commercial activities for the socio-economic uplift of its people.
The President also said the government would make available additional funds to set the tribal areas on the track fast paced development and bring them at par with the other developed parts of the country.
The President referred to an elaborate reconstruction and development plan for the tribal region that envisages boosting agriculture, irrigation, livestock and industry.
About the establishment of reconstruction opportunities, the President said the factories would be exempted from the duties and the traders would be facilitated to export their products.
Posted by: john 2006-03-08