Fate of FATA?

Army asks ruling coalition to decide fate of Fata
By our correspondent; The News, April 5, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's briefing to the top political leadership of the country on Wednesday made it clear to the new government that it was they who had to decide the future of operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

"Every aspect of the Pakistan's anti-terror war was put before the political leaders. It was explained how the operation was started, its current stage and the elements involved in terrorism," an informed official told The News.

However, he said, the briefing left the fate of the ongoing operations to the political leaders to decide. Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and some federal ministers attended the briefing.

The briefing explained the background of the ongoing operations in the tribal areas. The political leadership was informed about the agreements concluded with the militants and the tribesmen and how these were broken.

They were told that the American pressure on continuing the anti-terror operations in the tribal areas was not only there but kept intensifying, as Washington feared that attacks from al-Qaeda on the United States or any Western country would emanate from Pakistan's tribal areas.

It was explained that there were different kinds of elements creating trouble in certain regions of Fata. They include al-Qaeda operatives and the local Taliban. The second category, the political leaders were informed, comprises two sorts of elements – 'genuine' Taliban and criminal elements like kidnappers and smugglers, who have somehow sneaked into the Taliban ranks.

The official said a differentiation had to be made between the two categories of the local Taliban to deal with them.He said the ruling political leaders indicated that they wanted to "initiate a dialogue" with the militants to resolve the issue peacefully. They were opposed to the use of force, he said. They were informed that the purpose of concluding different agreements in the tribal areas, which the United States opposed, was to seek peace through dialogue.

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