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Pakistan's new spy chief offers a glimpse of battle

October 09, 2008|From the Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Pakistan's incoming spy chief on Wednesday showed lawmakers images of people being slaughtered by militants, in a rare, private briefing on the battle against Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters along the border with Afghanistan, attendees said.

The government convened the special session of parliament, which was to continue today, as part of its push for political unity as it seeks to stabilize Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

The gathering lasted about three hours, said two people who attended. They requested anonymity because they had been sworn to secrecy. One said statistics were also shared, but the attendee declined to offer details other than to say that some appeared to have already been made public.

According to military data released last month, suicide attacks have killed nearly 1,200 people in Pakistan since July 2007, most of them civilians. The statistics also show that 1,368 security force personnel had been killed since late 2001, when Pakistan's former military ruler, President Pervez Musharraf, allied the country with the United States to fight terrorism.

Many in Pakistan blame that alliance for the rise in violence here. American missile strikes on militant hide-outs in Pakistani territory along the Afghan border, where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding, have angered the population.

Army spokesman Maj. Murad Khan confirmed that Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the general recently appointed to lead Pakistan's main spy agency, had spoken to lawmakers. Pasha currently serves as director-general of military operations.

The U.S. says the militants use the border region as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan.

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