Pakistan's spy chief addresses MPs

Government says briefing will help formulate national strategy on terrorism.

    Roads leading to government buildings in Islamabad were sealed off on Wednesday [AFP]

    "There will be a question-answer session tomorrow and it will be followed by a debate by the members for few days," a spokesman for the parliament said.

    National consensus

    Referring to the briefing, Ahmed Mukhtar, the defence minister, said: "It will help evolve a national consensus and formulate a national policy on how to tackle growing terrorism and extremism.

    "Everybody knows the security situation in the country."

    Pakistan is reeling from a new wave of bomb attacks after a lull that followed an election in February that brought a civilian government to power and signalled the end of the road for Pervez Musharraf's presidency.


    Pakistan's Lashkars take security into their own hands

    A suicide truck bomb that killed 55 people and destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on September 20 delivered a fresh shock to the country.

    The six-month old coalition, headed by the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), is under pressure from its US ally to use more force against fighters who have been fuelling anti-government violence in Afghanistan, and harbouring members of Al-Qaeda.

    A brewing economic crisis is also threatening to overwhelm the government headed by Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, who succeeded Musharraf after he quit in August.

    Pakistan has protested against intensified US missile attacks on suspected pro-Taliban and Al-Qaeda targets in the tribal areas and in particular against a US commando raid in early September.

    Bajaur offensive

    In another development, Pakistani security forces have launched an offensive in the strategically located Bajaur region, and estimate that more than 1,000 fighters have been killed there since early August.

    Many Pakistanis blame the US for its problems, including the economic crisis [AFP]
    Officials said the security forces, backed by helicopter gunships, killed 20 fighters including eight foreigners, in an offensive in Bajaur on Wednesday.

    At the other end of the tribal belt, the army has besieged fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in the mountain fastness of South Waziristan.

    Operations have also been carried out in tribal areas around Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, as pro-Taliban fighters have become bolder about entering the city.

    Fierce battles have also taken place in nearby Swat, a former tourist destination.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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