Published: Monday, May 6, 2013

Us-led War On Terror

‘Pakistan should reconsider support’

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif, seen as the front-runner in Pakistan’s election race, said the country should reconsider its support for the US war on Islamist militancy and suggested that he was in favour of negotiations with the Taliban.
Pakistan backed American efforts to stamp out global militancy after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and was rewarded with billions of dollars in US aid.
But many Pakistanis have grown resentful, saying thousands of Pakistani soldiers have died fighting “America’s war”.
Sharif, a religious conservative who is hoping to become prime minister for a third time after next Saturday’s election, said the Pakistani military’s US-backed campaign against the Taliban was not the best way to defeat the insurgency.
“I think guns and bullets are always not the answer to such problems,” he told Reuters in an interview in his black armoured car on Saturday. “I think other options need to be explored at the same time and see what is workable. And I think we’re going to pursue all these other options.”
Army offensives have weakened the Pakistani Taliban, which is close to al-Qaeda, but they have failed to break the movement’s back.
Sharif wants a review of the backing provided for the US war on militancy under the previous government’s approach.
“Someone will have to take this problem seriously,” said Sharif, as he headed to an election campaign rally. “All stakeholders will have to sit down together and understand the concerns of all parties and then take a decision, which is in the best interest of Pakistan and the international community.”
His comments are likely to anger Washington, which has been pushing Pakistan to both stamp out domestic militancy – where Taliban militants are waging a violent campaign to impose their austere brand of Islam – and to help defeat the Afghan Taliban.
The United States is hoping the elections will usher in stability so that Pakistan can help pacify neighbouring Afghanistan as US-led Nato troops prepare to leave by the end of 2014.