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Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 19:36 UK

Pakistanis reflect on army offensive

Pakistan's army has launched an air and ground offensive against Taliban militants in the South Waziristan area.

Here Pakistanis reflect on the offensive and the mood in the country following a string of attacks by militants.

ATIF HAMEED, 31, IT ENGINEER, PESHAWAR

Atif Hameed
Atif says people in Peshawar are stressed and scared

We welcome the action by the army because we want peace and stability.

It must successful at any cost. And by the grace of God, it will be. If the army is not 100% successful then there will be no future for the country.

Of course the offensive will affect the ordinary people in Waziristan. The earlier operation in Swat led to a huge displacement of people. But this is a price that has to be paid to defeat the militants.

People are stressed and scared in Peshawar because of the attacks. The bomb attack that struck at the end of September was right outside my office. That was a horrific incident that left body-parts and debris strewn over a wide area.

Some people won't let their children out. But people have to get on with their lives, they have to go to work or college even though they fear what might happen.

I've just heard gunshots outside my house. This is routine now.

Despite all of this, people are hopeful. We believe in the power and brilliance of our military. We trust the military more than the government.

SAAD, 26, KARACHI, PAKISTAN

The people behind the suicide attacks can't be allowed to get away with them. They are in Pakistani territory and are disturbing our everyday life so the government has every right to intervene. It should have done so a long time ago.

The army offensive is necessary but the most important issue for Pakistan is economic development

Pakistanis do not know where this country is heading. They do not have high hopes for the future.

Not many people support the present government or its leader. Asif Ali Zardari's approval ratings are low - some surveys indicate it is less than 19%.

Despite this, he is getting support from the US government. This is not something that most Pakistanis are happy about.

You have to ask why people are drawn to the radical element.

Many parts of the country have power cuts for more than 10 hours a day. The economic situation is very poor. Education is only available for those who can afford it. There is no proper healthcare in rural areas.

The army offensive in Waziristan is necessary, but the most important issue for Pakistan is economic development.

It is vital that the economic aid reaches the people rather than being squandered. The most important things that will safeguard our future are economic improvement, better education and a reformed justice system.

BASMA KHAN, 22, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, LAHORE

Basma Khan
Basma says the militants are tarnishing Pakistan's image

I support the army action - something must be done to stop the militants.

The lack of security is affecting all of us in Lahore. When people leave their homes in the morning they fear for their lives.

There are so many security forces here in Lahore that I actually feel more unsafe now. It makes me think there will be another attack soon.

Everyday I have my ID checked or my car stopped. I see police and armed security forces everywhere.

It is sad that the image of Pakistan has become so tarnished by the terrorists. They are distorting the image of our country and of Islam.

The militants recruit young and innocent people who do not have exposure to the cities or the outside world. But most people in this country just want peace. We are sick and tired of the attacks.

I hope that actions will speak louder than words, and people will see that the army is doing all it can do to crush these militants. I hope the world will see that it is the Pakistani people who are the most threatened by these terrorists.

We have to be hopeful that things will get better in Pakistan. What else can we do? But nobody knows what will happen in the future.

ASIF, 52, DOCTOR, ISLAMABAD

I believe the army is doing its best to destroy the militants in the country. They have already done a commendable job in Swat and continue to do so despite sustaining very heavy casualties.

The real problem began across the border in Afghanistan

Most Pakistanis support the operation. But it is difficult to say how successful they will be as history shows it is difficult to defeat such forces in this area.

So-called experts have blamed Pakistan for the current turmoil in the region.

I would say the real problem began across the border in Afghanistan. The Russian invasion of the country led to Americans flooding the area with money and weapons and inviting the Islamic Mujahideen to fight there.

The current problem in Pakistan is a result of the war in Afghanistan being pushed over the border into our country.

Most people here are cool-headed and friendly. They are focused on their everyday lives - they do not think about joining the militants.

I hope the current offensive will uproot the militants and lead to fewer attacks on our cities.

But the real way to resolve the problem is to negotiate with the local tribal elders and religious leaders. These people have controlled the area successfully with minimal outside intervention for many years. This is also the way to resolve the problem in Afghanistan.



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