07/23/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN - AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan, government meeting to stop Islamic threat

At the center of the discussions are anti-terrorism measures against fundamentalists, who control entire areas of the northwest border with Afghanistan, and have set up permanent courts there. In Quetta, the Pakistani army arrests the local commander of the Taliban armed forces.

Islamabad (AsianNews/Agencies) - This morning in the capital, an emergency government meeting was held to discuss new anti-terrorism norms. At the center of the talks are the recent threats from the fundamentalists, who control entire areas on the country's northwestern border, setting up permanent Islamic courts. The area at the border with Afghanistan has for some time been the theater of clashes between the Taliban and the coalition forces, who have accused Islamabad of not taking sufficient steps in the fight against terrorism.

In addition to prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and government leaders, participating at the meeting were: Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated last December; Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and a representative of the Muslim League; Maulana Fazlur Rehman, of the party of the ulemas; and Asfandyar Wali Khan, a representative of the nationalist party of the Pashtun.

A member of the executive emphasizes that there were extensive discussions of the "military operations in tribal areas", of "the law and order situation in the country", and of "counterterrorism strategy", with special attention to the al Qaeda militias, which have turned Pakistan into a strategic base for guerrilla operations. In recent days, leaders of the terror network have made various statements and threats against Pakistani government officials, believed to be guilty of asking security forces to carry out military operations aimed at wiping out the rebel militias in the region.

The Pakistani government hopes for a resolution of the crisis through diplomacy, and rejects the use of force; a decision that, according to the coalition forces, favors the proliferation of guerrilla operations against Afghanistan, which are launched precisely from this area.

Yesterday, news came of the arrest last Saturday of a Taliban leader in Quetta, a city in the southwestern part of the country: Pakistani security forces apprehended the mullah Rahim, commander of the armed forces of Helmand, and a leading figure in the Taliban militias.

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