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The situation in Pakistan

Wilson John’s assumption, in “Unrest in the provinces” (Op-Ed, Friday), that the peace agreement in Waziristan was hammered out under pressure from the army, is baseless because the accord was concluded at the insistence of the tribal chiefs who committed themselves not to allow terrorist activities in Pakistan or in Afghanistan. Of course, military command input is given due consideration in such cases, and to construe it as pressure or dissension only indicates the ignorance of the decisionmaking process.

It is inappropriate to imagine that troop withdrawal was a tradeoff in the accord. Not a single troop has been withdrawn from the region; instead, two more army brigades have been deployed quite recently, raising the troop strength more than 85,000 in a region that is 20 times smaller than Afghanistan, where there are only 40,000 troops in U.S.-led coalition forces.

The peace agreement is a multi-pronged strategy to win the hearts and minds of the people and is aimed at weaning away the locals from the terrorists. This policy is paying dividends as the tribal chiefs have killed more than 300 foreign militants during the last couple of months. There are always some spoilers in such accords, but their designs must not be allowed to get the upper hand. That is exactly the case with the peace agreement.

It is absurd to assume that Taliban are a “strategic tool” for Pakistan. They are killing our people and carrying out suicide bombings in the country.

The U.S. media and Capitol Hill may also ponder why Americans are not succeeding in Iraq despite their heaviest military presence, equipped with the state-of-the-art technology. The situation is getting worse with every passing day. Of course, U.S. troops are doing their best as well-trained professionals, but they are, at present, seemingly helpless in the face of suicide bombings. It is a long war and the trust deficit will only strengthen the enemy.

M. AKRAM SHAHEEDI

Press minister

Embassy of Pakistan

WashingtonPhone: 202-243-3263

Fax 202-686-1495

Comic relief in Annapolis

Wednesday’s article about Michael Busch, Maryland House Speaker, was comical (“Busch warns of local aid cuts,” Page 1). I suspect Mr. Busch doesn’t think of himself as a comedian, but for those of us who pay attention, he is good for a guffaw anytime he opens his mouth.

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