LIANE HANSEN, Host:
Pakistan's President Ali Asif Zardari told a joint session of parliament this weekend that Pakistan needs to fight the escalating violence for its own good. But the reaction from analysts and editorial writers has been mixed. NPR's Anne Garrels joins us from Islamabad. And Anne, what sort of reservations are being voiced in Pakistan about the American president's new strategy?
ANNE GARRELS: I mean Pakistan's intelligence services continue to maintain ties with some Taliban groups. U.S. officials talked about this a lot last week, both on and off the record. And until now, confusion in Pakistan about good Taliban, bad Taliban is basically rendering the whole war against terrorism incoherent and self-defeating.
HANSEN: Anne, President Zardari told the nation yesterday that this is Pakistan's war, that Pakistan is being threatened. From what you're saying, he hasn't been able to make his case.
GARRELS: The military has been (unintelligible) to shift resources from its border with India and the government has been so involved in internal fights over power that what is quite possibly the biggest threat to the country is just being ignored. And those here who do support President Obama's policy, and see the Islamic extremists as a serious threat, they worry the government will not be able to back up any military action with the necessary administrative and economic support in the tribal areas to win over hearts and minds. And that the Taliban threat ultimately could just get even worse.
HANSEN: But Anne, what about offers of aid? I mean, you know, 1.5 billion a year for five years? That's got to be an inducement.
GARRELS: In addition to hitting some al-Qaida targets, they've caused civilian casualties. They're incredibly unpopular, these attacks. They serve to strengthen anti-American sentiment. President Zardari insists there will be no violations of Pakistan's sovereignty. He says he's against the drone attacks, but they continue. And frankly, it makes his government look pretty stupid.
HANSEN: NPR's Anne Garrels in Islamabad, Pakistan. Anne, thank you so much.
GARRELS: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.