(AFP) – Oct 23, 2008
ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan's lawmakers have called for a review of its role in the US-led "war on terror" and a resumption of dialogue with militants amid a wave of violence by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Parliament passed a special resolution late on Wednesday after a 15-day closed-door session focusing on the insurgency in Pakistan's tribal regions near the Afghan border.
"We need an urgent review of our national security strategy," a copy of the resolution seen by AFP said.
"The challenge of militancy and extremism must be met through developing a consensus and dialogue with all genuine stakeholders," it said.
Pakistan's new civilian government has responded to massive US pressure to finally tackle insurgent safe havens in the tribal belt by launching a huge military operation in the troubled Bajaur tribal district.
But public anger is mounting over continuing US missile strikes and military incursions on Pakistani soil, as well as the government's failure to stop attacks such as the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott hotel in September.
With a fresh US missile strike in the tribal belt on Thursday killing 11 people, the lawmakers asked the government to move to end such attacks.
"Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be safeguarded. The nation stands united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively," it said.
The most effective solution to the problem of extremism remained a political approach, the resolution added.
"Dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution," it said.
The United States has been critical of earlier peace deals with militants, saying they were not implemented effectively and allowed Al-Qaeda to rebuild its capability in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Lawmakers called for social and economic development of insurgency-hit areas, which mostly lack basic facilities including clean drinking water, healthcare and schools.
They asked the government to replace the military as the lead agency in the fight against militancy as early as possible, using by civilian law enforcement groups and engaging tribal councils to build confidence among local people.
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