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Army has close ties with LeT: Pak delegation

January 22, 2009 19:34 IST
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A peace delegation from Pakistan on Thursday suggested the military regime in that country might not yet be over yet and singled it out for maintaining close ties with terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

The delegation also said the Obama administration in the US would need the Pakistan military's help to restore stability in Afghanistan.

The 23-member delegation comprising journalists, peace and human rights activists, legislators and scholars arrived here after crossing over the Indo-Pak border from Wagah on Wednesday.

Attending a round table conference in New Delhi, the delegates referring to terrorism pointed out that the "monster that was created has outgrown its inventors".

"We are living in a jail. Our bureaus in the northern frontier regions are being shut down as they are constantly under physical vigil by the Pakistan troops," said Jugnu Mohsin, editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times.

Citing that a number of politicians and human rights activists have been killed or threatened for their stance against the Pakistan military, delegates sought India's help in co-opting the military to the political will of Pakistan.

"The relation between the United States and Pakistan should also be in a political to political level, rather than on a political to military level," said Imtiaz Alam, executive director of South Asia Free Media Association.

Pointing out that the civilian government is not in the loop of many happenings, chairperson of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jahangir said there is a need for making the Pakistan armed forces and its intelligence wing, the Inter Services Intelligence answerable to Pakistan Parliament.

"After the civil society in Pakistan came out with a joint statement expressing solidarity for the victims of Mumbai's terror strikes, we received threat calls asking us to change our views," said Jehangir.

A specialist on FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and northern frontiers of Pakistan Kamran Arif opined that the military is tackling forces who were provided arms and ammunition by the United States and the United Kingdom during earlier military regimes in Pakistan on the pretext of maintaining peace in these regions.

Indian journalists, former diplomats, activists and strategy experts, who welcomed the peace delegation from Pakistan, suggested it is impossible to commence any dialogue with a government which has responsibility but no power.

"Even the Director General of Pakistan's Ahmed Shuja Pasha came out with statements like the Taliban has a great ideology," pointed out India's former Ambassador to Pakistan G Parthasarathy.

To this, the Pakistani delegation sought the support of India's civil society in strengthening the democratic process in Pakistan.

The delegation opined that people in Pakistan sees the culmination of instability in the Northern frontiers and FATA zones as a direct fall-out of the instability reigning in Afghanistan.

Representatives of both the countries agreed that regaining stability in crisis torn Afghanistan will take at least two decades and the Obama government will not be able to achieve this without help from Pakistani military.

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