Dec 17, 2014 2:08 PM

Steps Pakistan is taking after school massacre

The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) A look at steps the Pakistani government is taking to address militancy following Tuesday's Taliban massacre of 148 people at a school:


PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN COORDINATION: Pakistan has reached out for help from neighboring Afghanistan, with which it has long had a rocky relationship. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Tuesday night and they agreed to step up the fight against militants on both sides of the border, Sharif said.

Then Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, flew to Kabul Wednesday where met with Afghan leaders, including Ghani, and the commander of international troops there. An army statement said Sharif shared "vital elements of intelligence" about the Peshawar attack.

A Pakistani military official with knowledge of the meeting said Pakistan asked Afghanistan to take action against Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, who Pakistan says is hiding in Afghanistan's border region. Call intercepts and recordings were handed over to the Afghans showing Fazlullah was involved from Afghan territory, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have blamed each other in the past for harboring militants on their territory. But recently there have been signs of improved relations.


LEGAL STEPS: The prime minister's office said Wednesday he was lifting a ban on executions in terrorism cases. Pakistan has had a moratorium on executions since 2008. When Nawaz Sharif took office last summer he lifted the moratorium, but then later re-imposed the ban when Pakistani Taliban militants agreed to hold peace talks. Human rights activists oppose the death penalty, as do European countries with whom Sharif is eager to open up trade.

The lifting of the moratorium followed a top-level meeting between the prime minister and military and civilian law enforcement officials on the legal system's "inadequacies in punishing terrorists."


MILITARY ACTION: The Pakistani military carried out 20 airstrikes Wednesday in a remote part of northwestern Pakistan. The military said 57 militants were killed in the operation. It remains to be seen what other military or police action Pakistan will take to hunt down those responsible for the violence and to address militancy altogether in the country. The army is already roughly six months into a major operation in the North Waziristan tribal region, the last remaining area of the frontier region where it had not carried out an offensive.

The military says it has killed over 1,200 insurgents. The operation was launched in June, and in recent weeks the army has also conducted aerial strikes in neighboring Khyber tribal region.


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