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Govt to stop referring Pak as frontline state

Islamabad: Seeking an image makeover, the Pakistan government has decided to stop referring to the country as a "frontline state in the war against terrorism" as it does not want to be perceived as the epicentre of the menace, according to a media report on Friday.

"Descriptions like frontline state in war against terrorism overcast the country`s positivities. Therefore, we are doing away with this phrase," a senior security official was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

The phrase is "misleading" and creates an impression that the problem of terrorism is specific to this region, something which contradicts Pakistan`s position that it is a global phenomenon, the unnamed official said.

"We don`t want to be seen as the epicentre of terrorism anymore," the official said.

The phrase gained currency after Pakistan joined the US-led war on terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Top Pakistani leaders, including the President and the Prime Minister, frequently refer to the country as a "frontline state" in the campaign against terrorism in their public speeches.

The report said that though the regime of military ruler Pervez Musharraf and the current Pakistan People`s Party-led government had kept flaunting Pakistan`s sacrifices by portraying the country as the frontline state, there was "an acknowledgment in the government circles that the label has cost it dearly".

According to government estimates, Pakistan lost almost USD 50 billion over the past 10 years and thousands of civilians and security personnel have been killed or maimed for life.

"Instability, a shrinking economy, currency devaluation, massive internal security expenses and loss of investment and export markets are just some of the manifestations of the debilitating effects this phrase and the country?s alliance with the West has caused," the report said.

On the other hand, Western governments have been continuously "suggesting that Pakistan has benefited from its role as the frontline state through international aid and rescheduling of its debt".

The official said the shift did not symbolise a "dilution of the country`s commitment to counter-terrorism efforts".

Rising extremism and radicalisation of society are emerging as a bigger threat, he said.

The reaction to Governor Salman Taseer`s assassination has exposed "how precarious the situation was", he said.

"We may handle violence by resorting to force, but extremism is a state of mind that cannot be addressed by such means," he said.

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