Pakistan is forming a new anti-terrorism
force with the help of the U.S. government. The Pakistani war on terror is reaping
unexpected benefits in the country's tribal region.
Pakistan's alliance with the United States in the fight against global terror
networks is close to two years old.
The cooperation between the two countries is being stepped up a notch, with
Pakistani officials saying a new elite anti-terrorism unit is in the works.
Few details have been released, but officials say the new investigative group
is being trained with U.S. assistance and will help track down suspected terrorists
hiding in Pakistan. The first team is to include at least 40 officers.
Pakistan has recently made a number of high-profile arrests of alleged top-ranking
members of the militant al-Qaida network.
The Pakistani army also has increased its presence in the semi-autonomous
tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan, where al-Qaida members are said
to be seeking refuge. The tribal areas are also said to host forces loyal to
the former Taleban regime conducting attacks in Afghanistan.
Major-General Shaukat Sultan Khan said the Pakistan army's new deployment
in the region has improved relations with the leaders of the country's seven
tribal agencies. This is due, he said, to infrastructure and other development
that the army has brought to the impoverished region. "Basically, the improvement
of their living standard that is now happening probably wasn't possible in
the past, so those people are actually happy," he said.
Pakistan says it has arrested about 500 al-Qaida and Taleban suspects since
the start of its collaboration with the United States, after the terror attacks
on New York and Washington in 2001.