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'Peshawar attack to strengthen US-Pak partnership'

world Updated: Apr 06, 2010 16:22 IST

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The terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Peshawar is likely to strengthen the partnership between the Obama Administration and Islamabad in confronting Islamist extremists in the region, a well-known American expert on South Asia said today.

"Today's joint attacks will likely strengthen the partnership between Pakistan and the US in confronting Islamist extremists bent on weakening the Pakistani state and breaking US-Pakistan ties," Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank said.

"Indeed the attacks follow closely on the heels of the first-ever high-level strategic dialogue between the two countries, which spotlighted the US interest in building a strong, long-lasting partnership with Pakistan," she said.

Though there has been previous attack on the US Consulate in Peshawar earlier too, Curtis of the Heritage Foundation, said yesterday's attack represented a far bolder attempt to penetrate the Consulate itself.

"The US had already fortified security at the Consulate to avert such an attempt. Even though no US casualties have been reported thus far, today's violence will prompt even more stringent security measures for US officials and a likely drawdown of diplomatic staff," she said.

Curtis said these latest attacks on both US and Pakistani interests are aimed at demonstrating that the Pakistani Taliban remains a force to be reckoned with, despite the pressure on its leadership from the drones.

"While Pakistanis have in the past objected to the US drones as an infringement on its sovereignty, these protests have died down in recent months as Pakistanis increasingly see that the US is targeting enemies of the Pakistani state,” she said.

Meanwhile, another think-tank, Stratfor said the Pakistan Taliban, which claimed responsible for the attack, could see the attack as a success, since it forced the US presence out of the city (at least temporarily) without causing massive casualties among the local population.

"If this is the beginning of a new Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan campaign, follow-up attacks likely could shift to softer target such as the ISI, the police or the military — or very soft targets such as hotels, markets or transportation, all of which have been frequent targets in the past," it said.