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Terrorism & Security

Taliban militants strike in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province

Tehrik-e-Taliban carried out Sunday's bombing, the deadliest since the new Pakistani government took power in March. The suicide attack came two days after the militants freed the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin.

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A report in Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper quoted a senior Army officer rebutting the US view of the situation in Pakistan.

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"No Pashtun is a terrorist," 14 Division GOC Maj-Gen Tariq Khan told journalists while showing them the forward positions of the army in a former stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud [the head of a leading umbrella group of militants known as Tehrik-e-Taliban]. He also disagreed with the US allegation that the Pakistan Army was being lenient with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. "I would disagree with the US claims of [us] being soft on militants."

The Times of India, meanwhile, reported that India was concerned about Pakistan's peace deals with militants.

India's position emanates from a number of factors. There is little hope that the new civilian government in Pakistan will take any strong measures to stanch the growth of the terror machine. India is very uncomfortable with Pakistan's new efforts to reach a peace deal with Taliban and other militants in [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and believes it is headed down the same slippery slope as the peace deals Pervez Musharraf struck with the Taliban in 2005 and 2006.
"We don't think this is a good deal, because there are no good terrorists or bad terrorists, and you cannot really treat them as an organized force, particularly when they haven't renounced violence, ideals or goals," a source said.

The New York Times reported the view that Sunday's suicide bomb attack may have been carried out without Mr. Mehsud's direction. In the first 10 weeks of 2008, before Pakistan's new government assumed power, there were 17 suicide bombings in Pakistan. Since then, the region had been more peaceful.

But on Monday, Reuters reported that NATO had beefed up its military presence on the Afghan border, suspecting that the peace deals would result in attacks into Afghanistan. NATO said militant attacks had already increased in the areas near to where peace talks were underway.

"Our analysis of the previous peace deals ... is that when that dialogue is ongoing or when talks have been consummated in peace deals we see a spike in the untoward events that we experience on our side of the border," said General Dan McNeill, commander of NATO's 47,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

General MacNeill was also quoted as saying that insurgency was not the biggest security threat in the region. The "scourge of illegal narcotics" – Afghanistan produces 93 percent of the world's opium – and corruption were bigger problems, he said.

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