Pakistani Wants U.S. to Talk to Taliban

This week the Obama administration is expected to release its review of what is known as "AfPak" -- a new policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, increasingly seen as one front in a wide war. ABC News sat down in Islamabad with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan's foreign minister, to talk about that policy shift, Pakistan's own attempts to fight militants, and what Pakistan hopes is a greater emphasis on economic development.

The U.S. has spent a lot of energy and relatively a lot of money on Pakistan in the last few years. Do you think that, up until now, the strategy has worked?

The strategy has not worked. If it had worked, why revise it? The review is a clear acceptance that we need a new direction. We need a new strategy.

Where did the previous administration's policies fail?

I think there was too much emphasis of use on brute force. Too much reliance on the military option. And not enough attention was paid to capacity-building. Not enough attention was paid to issues of governance… Perhaps enough effort was not put on engagement with the reconcilable elements [of the Taliban], and the Obama administration I think is now it seems more focused in this direction.

Criticism of Bush Administration

You criticize the Bush administration for focusing too much on the military. How important is a greater emphasis on economic development?

Let me be very honest. FATA [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas] were one of the most neglected areas of Pakistan. If you look at the levels of poverty in FATA, if you look at the level of illiteracy in FATA, obviously the social indicators are not talking very highly of our effort in the past. So there is a realization from within and there's a realization without that a greater focus of economic assistance, developing civilian infrastructures, catering to the needs of the people is important. If we have to win this fight, we have to change the mindset. Well how do we change the mindset unless we educate people? If we do not provide boys and girls of FATA with quality education through a proper public education system, obviously they'll go to the madrassas. They'll have no choice…

If you want economic stability you need security. And if you want to protect the homeland, you have to invest here. Because there is a linkage here to security over there. And I think the American academia and think tanks are more aware of it.

You've mentioned in the past that Pakistan does not have some of the tools that you need to fight militants. What specifically are you asking of the U.S. in terms of military hardware?

For quick action, for quick deployment, and then pulling out of there, we need helicopters. We don't have enough helicopters. For consolidating the gains that the military has made and to hold them, we need night vision. We do not have it. To give additional support to the troops, we need a well trained and well equipped law enforcement agency, which is the police and paramilitary.

The Swat Dilemma

You've identified the militants in Swat as those who cannot be reconciled. Yet the provincial government is signing a peace deal with them. Why?

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