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Friday, July 5, 2013

Does Pakistan have a plan to halt terrorism?


AP

This Sunday, June 30, 2013 photo shows a army standing alert at the site of car bombing that killed more than a dozen people and left many injured in Peshawar, Pakistan. There is concern that the country's leaders lack a coherent strategy to fight the pervasive problem of violent extremism. — AP Photo.

Published 2013-07-05 14:11:31

ISLAMABAD: Terrorists have killed at least 160 people during the new Pakistani government's first month in office, fueling concern that the country's leaders lack a coherent strategy to fight the pervasive problem of violent extremism.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) scored a resounding victory in national elections in May with a platform that promoted peace talks as the best way to quell a systematic campaign by the Pakistani Taliban which has killed thousands of people. The plan quickly fell apart after the Taliban withdrew their offer to talk in response to a US drone strike that killed the group's deputy leader at the end of May.

The government has yet to articulate an alternate strategy, and in the meantime, the attacks keep coming. ''The government is completely confused over the terrorism problem,'' said Zahid Hussain, whose books plot the rise of militancy in Pakistan. ''The government's indecisiveness and dithering has emboldened the militants.''

At least 160 people were killed in suspected militant attacks in June, according to an Associated Press count. It was the second most deaths in a month this year, following April, when there were many attacks related to the election, said Mohammed Amir Rana, head of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies. Hussain and other analysts said the government failed to respond aggressively enough to the attacks over the last month. The government mostly relied on routine press releases that criticized the violence and expressed sorrow for the dead, but made no mention of who carried them out or how they would respond.

The government has taken a few public steps to show it is dealing with the attacks, which included the killing of international tourists at a scenic mountain, a suicide bombing of women university students and an attack on a funeral that killed a lawmaker. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Quetta, which has recently been the base for repeated attacks on the Hazara community. He brought senior security officials with him, including the head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)...Continue Reading... 

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