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US to decide Pakistan's anti-terror needs

By Lalit K Jha in Washington
April 01, 2009 03:23 IST
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The US military leadership will now decide which tools Pakistan needs in the war on terror and not the Pakistani Army, unlike in the past when Islamabad purchased fighter jets, primarily targeting India, from the counter-terrorism aid received from Washington.

Following the announcement of the new Af-Pak strategy by President Barack Obama, US officials have indicated that it would be difficult for the Pakistani establishment this time to purchase anything not be useful for anti-terror fight. Concerns have been expressed from various quarters earlier about diversion of anti-terror funds by Pakistan to buy equipment more suited for conventional warfare.

"In the course of implementing this new strategy, General David Petraeus and CENTCOM will study exactly what Pakistan's military needs are that are best related to the counter-insurgency fight," said Bruce Riedel, chairman of the Interagency Policy Review on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ridel said Pakistan has been a "hothouse breeding terror" much of which has now turned into a "Frankenstein". "Working with the Pakistanis, we will try to get them the equipment, the training that they need in order to be better capable of handling these militants," he said appearing on the popular Charlie Rose Show.

Observing that the Pakistani military is configured for conventional war, Riedel said: "It spent 60 years planning to fight a war against India. It simply doesn't have capability to really exert a successful counter-insurgency and counter- terrorism strategy in much of western Pakistan." 

Referring to the fact that western Pakistan is a huge barren area, Riedel said: "One thing they need, for example, is air mobility. If you are going to try to control these border regions, you need significant numbers of helicopters."
The White Paper of the Interagency Policy Group stresses on the need to strengthen US efforts to develop and operationally enable Pakistani security forces so that they are capable of succeeding in sustained counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. "In part this will include increased US military assistance for helicopters to provide air mobility, night
vision equipment, and training and equipment specifically for Pakistani Special Operation Forces and their Frontier Crops,"
the White Paper said.
"The situation in Afghanistan is a tough one. This is a country that has been at war for 30 years. The situation in Pakistan is equally if not even more difficult. This is a country with a profound socioeconomic problems, which has had a history of political weak relations between the military and civilian authority. There are dangers here," Riedel said.
"Pakistan has been a hothouse breeding terror for the last three decades. Much of that terror is now a Frankenstein which threatens Pakistan's own freedoms. We need to help the Pakistanis develop the capabilities to fight against them and to work with them," he said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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