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Swat agreement reflects Pak's weakness: South Asia expert

world Updated: May 06, 2009 12:53 IST

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Pakistan government's "surrender" of the Swat valley to Taliban as part of the now failed peace deal reflected the weakness of the dispensation in Islamabad, an eminent expert on South Asia has said.

The surrender to religious extremists in the NWFP province which elected the secular ANP party last year, also displays that the peace pact did not have the backing of the people, said Lisa Curtis, Senior Research fellow, Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation, testifying before a Congressional committee.

"Islamabad's decision to allow the implementation of a parallel Islamic court in Malakand division of NWFP which includes Swat Valley, demonstrates weakness of the Pakistan government and military in the face of militant onslaught," she argued before the House Committee of Foreign Affairs.

She said the "surrender of the Swat Valley" was a "major victory" for the extremists seeking to carve out pockets of influence in the country, "though collapse of the Pakistani state may not be imminent as some have recently suggested".

"This surrender occurred despite the overwhelming vote in favour of the secular outfit Awami National Party in the February 2008 elections, demonstrating that the people of the region do not support the extremist's agenda, but are merely acquiescing in the absence of support from the government to counter the militants," she said.

As Pakistani Army has now started taking action against the Taliban, Curtis said, it must be followed by sustained and consistent action based on a comprehensive civil military plan to counter the militants' objectives.

She said Pakistani civilian leaders have been too slow to awaken to the threat and too willing to sacrifice their constituents to the brutal policies of the Taliban.

Referring to US Special Envoy for Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke's statement in this regard, she said: "Ambassador Holbrooke talked about reaching that sweet spot, and I would just point out that the sweet spot would recognise Pakistan's genuine security concerns, but also make clear that the US will not tolerate dual policies toward terrorists."

Holbrooke earlier said when it comes to placing accountability on Pakistan in return of the massive US aid being proposed to the country, "we should be careful that we look for a sweet spot that is acceptable".