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US must pressurise Pak to confront militants

india Updated: Feb 14, 2007 12:34 IST

The United States foreign policy experts have rated Pakistan just behind Somalia as the country most likely to become the next stronghold of Al-Qaeda.

They have also said that the US must increase pressure "dramatically" on Islamabad to confront militants in its tribal areas.

The concerns about Pakistan were expressed in the "Terrorism Index" developed by the Center for American Progress and the Foreign Policy Magazine.

The Index, based on a non partisan survey of foreign policy experts drawn from a variety of sources including past officials of administration, also said that the world has become more dangerous for the United States.

A whopping 81 per cent of foreign policy experts surveyed said the world has become more dangerous for the United States and the American people with a minuscule 12 per cent opining that the world has become "more safer".

Significantly, 91 per cent of the experts surveyed have expressed the belief that the US "must increase pressure dramatically" on Pakistan to confront militants in tribal areas".

As the events of September 11, 2001, should have taught us, just because a problem is out of sight doesn't mean it should be out of mind".

What has come out also quite clearly in the survey is that while the United States has been looking toward Iraq, a problem that could be just as serious has been growing in the hills of Afghanistan with the re-grouping of the Taliban.

An overwhelming majority of the survey's experts - 83 per cent said fundamentalist Islamist group that harboured Osama bin Laden and Al- Qaeda while they planned and executed the September 11 attacks has strengthened in the past year.

So too have other terrorist outfits in the Middle East.

The experts called for a "surge" in Afghanistan and not in Iraq as they see that country faltering.

The US government has been given a grade of "below average" when it came to the issue of efforts of stabilising and rebuilding that war-torn country.

In the Global War on Terror, Afghanistan took the first place and only then Iraq — a pointed reminder to the Bush administration as the first deployments of the "surge" start arriving in the Iraqi capital.

Asked about troop increases, only about one third of index respondents recommended increasing the number of US forces in Iraq, while 66 per cent opposed an increase there.

By contrast, nearly 70 per cent believe that US troop levels should be increased in Afghanistan.

The elite foreign policy community has deep reservations about American foreign policy and the priorities in the war on terror — if 81 per cent see a world that is growing more dangerous for the American people, 75 per cent say the United States is losing the war on terror.

More than 80 per cent of the experts continue to expect a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade, a result that is unchanged from six months ago.

The experts did not show optimism when it came to Iraq with 88 per cent taking the view that the war in Iraq is having a negative impact on US National security with barely 20 per cent saying that the strategy of deploying more troops in Baghdad is a good idea.

More importantly, 92 per cent said that the Bush administration's performance on Iraq has been below average, with nearly 6 in 10 experts of all political stripes saying the Bush administration is doing the "worst possible job" in Iraq.

The Terrorism Index is based on the results of a survey designed by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy.

Participants in the survey were selected by for their expertise in terrorism and US national security.

No one currently working in an official US government capacity was invited to participate.

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