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Pak made a 'scapegoat' in terror war: FM

Pakistan's Foreign Minister said that his country was being made a "scapegoat" for the international failure to contain insurgent violence in neighboring Afghanistan.

world Updated: Oct 02, 2008 12:04 IST

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that his country was being made a "scapegoat" for the international failure to contain insurgent violence in neighboring Afghanistan.

He insisted that Pakistan was confronting Al-Qaeda and Taliban militant activity on its side of the border, which Washington has said was being used as a staging ground for terror attacks against US and other allied troops in Afghanistan.

"A large segment of the Pakistani public therefore believes Pakistan is being made the scapegoat for ISAF and Afghanistan government's failings," Qureshi said in a speech at Princeton University in New Jersey.

A copy of the speech was provided to AFP by the Pakistan embassy in Washington.

"We are doing our share in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. However we must be honest to ourselves that the majority of Afghanistan's problems originate in and must be treated in Afghanistan," he said.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is conducting by far its biggest and most complex operation in Afghanistan, where there are about 70,000 foreign troops, most of them deployed under the NATO banner.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained after US troops in Afghanistan stepped up attacks on militants inside Pakistani territory amid Washington's concerns that Islamabad was not doing enough in containing insurgents.

Qureshi sought closer coordination among the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying each partner should "shed preconceived ideas and notions about the others' actions and motivations.

"The approach should be to address the problems rather than scoring media points," he said.

He called for a beefing up of capacity of both Pakistani and Afghanistan forces to fight insurgents.

On the Pakistani side, he said the country lacked night fighting capability and needed the means to gather real time intelligence and to mount a "precision response in which there is minimal collateral damage."

Qureshi wanted "a matching response on the Afghanistan side" to border control measures Pakistan had instituted.

"We have some 1,100 posts along the border. There are about a hundred or so on the Afghanistan side. These posts and measures should act as a double net," he said.

The minister said that while disagreements could erupt between allies,"We must not forget that Pakistan and the United States are a team in this war.

"Neither can win this war easily without the other."