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U. S. Forces Pakistan to usher in broad reforms.

U. S. Forces Pakistan to usher in broad reforms.

Author:  Chidanand Rajghatta - Times News
Publication:  The Times of India
Date: December 6, 2001

Pakistan is being compelled to initiate wide-ranging reforms, including changes in its strategic posture, under relenting pressure from Washington to abandon its failed militaristic policies, according to U.S. officials monitoring the fast changing dynamics in the region.

The changes include purging the Pakistani establishment, including its intelligence agencies of radical elements, clamping down on religious institutions advocating a perverted form of jihad and diverting resources, particularly American aid procured in lieu of cooperation over the war on terrorism, to the social sector.

Islamabad is also being asked to re-evaluate its failed policies on Afghanistan and Kashmir that have brought infamy on the country. Central Information Agency (CIA) director George Tenet is the latest among a stream of U.S. officials who have visited Pakistan to "persuade" Islamabad to initiate changes in policy, including those concerning Kashmir.

In a not-so-furtive secret visit to Islamabad last weekend, Mr Tenet pushed for deeper intelligence "cooperation" with the aim of getting a better U.S. oversight on Pakistani agencies, whose many maverick operations - including Kargil - have  embarrassed even the moderates in the Pakistani establishment.

Mr Tenet's visit will result in greater U. S . intelligence and law enforcement presence in Pakistan to keep track of jehadi elements and organisation.  Already, the FBI has been deployed at major Pakistani airports to monitor the movement jehadis and terrorists.

In the past, terrorists involved in major strikes in the west, including the first World Trade Center bombings, assassination of CIA personnel, and the embassy bombing in Africa, have moved freely in and out of Pakistan.  Pakistan constitute the largest number of foreigners arrested in the U.S. following the September 11 carnage.  Pakistanis also constitute the greatest number of  "foreign fighters" in Afghanistan.

The movement out of Pakistan of suspected jahadi elements is now being severely curtailed following tightened security.  U. S. officials say they want Islamabad to totally circumscribe militant activity, and U.S. intelligence agencies will seek even greater domestic oversight once the hunt for Osama bin Laden is over.

U.  S. officials contest the view in some Indian quarters that Pakistan is getting economic freebies without accountability.  "They are not getting anything free.  There is plenty happening behind the scenes," one official said.

The $600 million aid package Washington has cleared for Islamabad would almost entirely go towards the social sector spending, except for a small portion for monitoring its borders with Afghanistan.  At the same time, Washington has agreed to help India monitor its border with Pakistan to prevent terrorist infiltration.

Washington has carefully kept Kashmir out of the debate "to give Musharraf some domestic breathing space".  But privately U. S. officials are advising Pakistan to break away from its aggressive and militaristic Kashmir policy.

We think the message has gone out that they are not going to able to get Kashmir by force, " the official said, adding that it would be some time before changes in the Pakistani policies begin to show.   The administration, he said, was confident Pakistan would follow the U. S. prescription "for its own benefit and survival."

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