Image: Pakistani paramilitary soldiers
Anjum Naveed  /  AP
Pakistan's paramilitary soldiers stand alert at a closed road leading to national assembly in Islamabad on Wednesday. Security is beefed up in the capital as Pakistani lawmakers debate over the government's tough line against terrorism amid rising violence between security forces and Islamic militants.
By Associated Press Writer
updated 10/8/2008 4:14:25 PM ET 2008-10-08T20:14:25

Pakistan's new spy chief showed lawmakers video and photos of militants killing people at a rare closed briefing Wednesday on the government's fight against Taliban and al-Qaida extremists, attendees said.

The fledgling civilian government called the special session of parliament as it sought political unity to stabilize the key U.S. ally in the war on terror.

Security officials showed the lawmakers footage of militants in the act of killing people, said two people who attended. They requested anonymity because they had been sworn to secrecy.

One of the attendees said they were also given statistics but declined to divulge them other than to say some appeared to have already been made public.

Suicide attacks have killed nearly 1,200 people since July 2007, most of them civilians, military data released last month showed. The date showed 1,368 security force personnel had been killed since late 2001, when Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf allied with Washington in the war on terror.

The U.S. says the militants use Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan. But American officials have praised a two-month-old Pakistani offensive in the Bajur tribal region that the Pakistani military claims has killed more than 1,000 insurgents.

At least 20 suspected militants were killed in fresh strikes there Wednesday, authorities said. Eight were believed to be foreigners.

Blaming the West
Many in Pakistan blame that alliance with the U.S. for the rise in violence here. American missile strikes on militant hideouts in Pakistani territory along the Afghan border, where Osama bin Laden is rumored to be hiding, have further angered the population.

The briefing lasted about three hours and was to resume Thursday morning.

Officials said the session was an effort to include opposition parties in a discussion aimed at forging a national anti-terror plan.

"It was essential that those who are responsible for law making and who are representing the people should get insight about what actually going on in the country," Information Minister Sherry Rehman said.

Security was tight around the parliament building, with concrete barriers and barbed wire ringing a large perimeter outside the facility. The media was not allowed in.

'Rather superficial'
Army spokesman Maj. Murad Khan confirmed that the army general newly appointed as head of the country's main spy agency, Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, spoke to lawmakers.

Afterward, some lawmakers told television channels that while they could not mention specifics of what was discussed, they had hoped for more depth.

"The briefing that was given to us today was rather superficial. It was more like the description of the symptoms than diagnosis of the disease," said Khurram Dastagir, a member of the opposition party of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

"I am seeking to find out what is causing this extremism and how did it come about," he said in an interview on Dawn News Television.

Sharif painted the session as a sign that Pakistan had truly transitioned to civilian rule after years of being under the military rule of Musharraf, who quit the presidency in August.

"Parliament is a sovereign body and it should be given right to discuss the matter and come up with a national policy," Sharif said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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