Pakistan Says Next US President Must Stop Missile Strikes

November 4, 2008

pakistan-president-1.jpgThe next U.S. president must halt missile strikes on insurgent targets
in northwest Pakistan or risk failure in its efforts to end militancy
in the Muslim country, the prime minister warned Tuesday.

Yousuf Raza Gilani said visiting U.S. Gen. David Petraeus “looked
convinced” when he warned him the strikes were inflaming anti-American
sentiment but that he got no guarantee the attacks would end.

Gilani’s remarks in an interview with The Associated Press
underscore how shaping a policy to deal with the militant threat in
nuclear-armed Pakistan and its new civilian leaders will be a key task
for the next U.S. president.

They also revealed the rising strain the missile strikes have placed
on relations between the two nations seven years after the Sept. 11,
2001, terrorist attacks forced them into an uneasy alliance.

“No matter who the president of America will be, if he doesn’t
respect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan … anti-America
sentiments and anti-West sentiment will be there,” said Gilani in his
heavily guarded residence atop a hill in the capital, Islamabad.

Over the last two months, the U.S. has launched at least 17 strikes
on militant targets on Pakistan’s lawless side of the Afghan border.

The region is home to scores of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters
believed involved in attacks on American and NATO forces in
Afghanistan, where violence is at its highest levels since the Taliban
regime was ousted in 2001.

The missile strikes are widely seen as sign of increasing
frustration in Washington at Pakistan’s unwillingness or inability to
tackle the threat emanating from the region, which is believed to be a
possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

The strikes – and a highly unusual ground attack by U.S. forces in
September – have killed at least 168 people, including some top
extremists but also many civilians, according to Pakistani officials.

The prime minister said the attacks, which have occurred in
semiautonomous tribal regions, were “uniting the militants with the
tribes. How can you fight a war without the support of the people?” he

He said the U.S. should cooperate with his country’s military,
sharing intelligence, to allow Pakistan to go after the targets itself.

“Either they should trust us and they should work with us, otherwise, I think it’s a futile exercise,” he said.

He also said the missile strikes served as a distraction to
Pakistan’s own military operations against insurgents in its border
regions. The army is currently in the midst of two major anti-insurgent
operations in the northwest.

“Their strategy is not coinciding with our strategy,” Gilani said. “Our strategy is to take one area at one time.”

On Monday, Gillani and other Pakistan leaders held talks with
Petraeus, who is making his first tour of the region since taking over
U.S. Central Command last week, a post that puts him in charge of the
wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has met with President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, among other senior leaders.

Source: WRAL.com

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