US strikes inflame tensions: Gilani
Pakistan's prime minister warned President Barack Obama on Friday that US attacks on Islamic militants in Pakistani territory are inflaming tensions and undermining efforts to quell the insurgency in Afghanistan.
Under the Bush administration, US officials complained the Pakistani government wasn't doing enough to confront militants that are allied with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. US forces have staged a number of missile strikes, and at least one ground attack, aimed at extremists based in Pakistan.
"As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are successfully isolating the militants from the local tribes, and we are keeping the tribes on the right side," Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said during an event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.
Obama has pledged to shift the US military's focus away from Iraq and on to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he calls the central front in the struggle against terrorist groups.
Gilani said Richard Holbrooke, the new US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, will visit Pakistan on Feb. 9.
"The focus of President Obama and our forces and our resolve is the same to fight against extremism and terrorism," he said.
But Gilani said US attacks inside Pakistan are inflaming anti-American sentiment. "Therefore that would not be useful. It would be counterproductive," he said.
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb hit a Pakistani army convoy near a Taliban stronghold, killing three soldiers and wounding another six, the army said yesterday.
Assailants detonated the bomb Friday evening as the convoy rolled through a village near the Swat valley, an army spokesman said. He requested anonymity, citing policy.
Pakistan's military has vowed to reinvigorate the efforts of thousands of soldiers stationed in Swat, a formerly peaceful region where Taliban militants have gained ground during 18 months of fighting.
The valley is separate from the tribal regions along the Afghan border where Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries are under attack from Pakistani troops and unmanned US aircraft.