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Pakistan PM approves new counter-terrorism measures Militant kills self, family in DIY bomb accident

 ISLAMABAD, March 19, (AFP): Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the formation of a rapid response force and a national intelligence directorate Tuesday to boost efforts against a decade-long Islamist insurgency, his office said. Sharif confirmed the measures during a meeting with Pakistan’s top civil and military officials, and said the establishment of high security prisons would be fast-tracked, his office said in a statement. “The Prime Minister said the provincial governments and institutions had to work hard to contribute and establish a secure environment by eliminating terrorism as economic prosperity was linked with security and peace in the country,” the statement said. Pakistan’s government approved the first National Internal Security Policy last month, which called for the establishment of the response force and of counterterrorism departments within police forces in the next six months.

The policy document had criticised the country’s all-powerful military for being “unable to demonstrate other capabilities essential to successful counter-insurgency: hold, build and integrate”, adding it was up to civil institutions to take up the slack. The government opened negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) last month in a bid to end a bloody insurgency which has cost thousands of lives and cost the economy tens of billions of dollars. The process broke down for more than two weeks after militants killed 23 kidnapped soldiers, but later resumed after the Taleban announced a month-long ceasefire. In an effort to take the talks to a higher level, the government last week formed a new four-member committee to begin direct contact with the Taleban. Meanwhile, a militant commander and five family members including a child were killed when a bomb he was tinkering with exploded at his home in northwest Pakistan, officials said on Wednesday. Aalim Deen Mehsud, a local commander of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) in the North Waziristan tribal area, was trying to remove explosive material from a mortar shell, triggering the blast, a security official said.

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