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Pakistan bears backlash of war on terrorism: Maleeha Lodhi

WASHINGTON June 16, 2002  (SANA) -- Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Dr. Maleeha Lodhi has said that Pakistan is bearing the brunt of the backlash against the war on terrorism. 
In an interview with Fox TV last night, Dr Lodhi said that the bomb attack on the US consulate in Karachi was an assault on Pakistan's resolve and determination, but the government remained firm, resolute and undeterred.
She warned against stereotyping of Muslims when the Fox programme showed a clip of a three- year old Saudi girl whose comments were characterized by the compere as hatred against non-Muslims.
Dr Lodhi said such clips should not be used selectively to make sweeping generalizations about Muslims and a great faith that emphasizes tolerance. She advised Fox News to exercise responsibility in its coverage and comments.
Ambassador Lodhi said terrorism had no faith or creed. "Extremism too was found in different societies and was certainly not specific to Muslim countries. Other faiths also had its extremists".
 Ambassador Lodhi pointed out Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. She said it was necessary to have dialogue between civilizations to promote understanding and build bridges.
Responding to questions about Pakistan, Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that the fight against terrorism is going to be a long hard road. "Therefore it was necessary for the international community to help Pakistan deal with this challenge. The international community needed to act collaboratively to fight the dark forces of terror, to win against an invisible enemy".
The tragedy in Karachi, she added, underscored the imperative for the world community to help Pakistan meet the challenges at hand.
Asked about extremism generated through Madrassas in Pakistan Ambassador Lodhi reminded the compere that its growth was associated with the long and protracted struggle that was waged by the US and other western powers during the cold war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Its blowback has affected Pakistan the most and is manifested in militancy and extremism. This ,she said was our joint legacy and it now has to tackled jointly.
Ambassador Lodhi has been appearing almost daily on major TV networks here since the past several weeks, explaining Pakistan's position and countering misperceptions as well as dis-information spread by Pakistan's foes and detractors.
Meanwhile talking to CNN Maleeha Lodhi said the investigators are working hard in tracking down who could have been responsible for the attack on the U.S consulate. "We do not have any definitive information yet, but whoever it is, this was an assault on Pakistan's resolve and on Pakistan's determination to fight terrorism".

She said the government and the people of Pakistan will not be deterred. "We will continue down this long and hard road because we know that we have to win in the war against terrorists".
Asked is al Qaeda and the Taliban moving into Pakistan, Dr. Lodhi said there is a backlash going on and that the war has shifted in terms of the fact that Pakistan seems to be in the first line of fire.
"But as far as Pakistani authorities and my government is concerned, as I said, we will track down whoever is carrying out these terrorist attacks and we will make sure that they'll be brought to justice".
Questioned is there any new relationship between those Afghan groups or al Qaeda members from other countries and Kashmiri extremists, she said Pakistan needs to focus all our attention and energies against the war on al Qaeda and their sympathizers.
"So it doesn't help that tensions between Pakistan and India continue, even though they may have eased somewhat in recent days. But the fact that we are somewhat distracted is not helpful in the war that we have to wage against al Qaeda and whatever other people may be supporting them".
She said the international community must give Pakistan the support that it clearly needs right now and also to ensure that Indo-Pak tensions remain in a state of easing and de-escalation, because otherwise it's very hard for Pakistan.
Asked are Pakistan's security forces straining to deal with so many different threats simultaneously, she said the global coalition today is straining to deal with an invisible enemy and a menace that all the nations confront. "Now I think what is important here is the need for international support to continue to my country so that we are able collectively to face what is a common threat to all of us".
To a question she said that Pakistan it is taking action against terrorists and militant groups. "We banned five militant organizations. We froze their bank accounts. We made sure that their offices didn't function. We closed down countless offices that these militant groups had".
"What has not helped is the fact that India by escalating the situation on our border and creating the situation which was nothing other than military brinkmanship, has meant that we've had to really divide our attention between various challenges that we face".
She said that people in Pakistan look towards the United States as well as the international community to find a peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis with India.
"Now I think it's very important that the international community also helps Pakistan and India resolve this crisis peacefully so that the people of Pakistan, as indeed the people of Kashmir and elsewhere, are able to see that there is hope, that there is a peaceful resolution".

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