Archive for May 10th, 2009

It is not the time to protest US or INDIA. We have to be united in this Civil War of Pakistan and against Talibanization of Afghanistan. Talibans should be up-rooted both from Pak And Afghan. We too bleed for the innocent Civilians. But must defeat the Taliban Terrorism against Humanity.

May 10, 2009

Hundreds protest Afghan civilian killings 

 

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Kabul: Posted: Sunday , May 10, 2009 in Indian Express

About 1,000 students marched in the Afghan capital today to protest against the alleged killing of scores of civilians in US air strikes. Chanting “Death to America,” “Death to the biggest terrorist” and “long live Islam,” they held banners reading “The blood of the Farah martyrs will never dry” and “USA is the world’s biggest terrorist,” a photographer said.

 Another banner demanded that “the murderers of more than 180 martyrs of Farah” go on trial, said the photographer, who estimated crowd numbered up to 1,000. The toll from air strikes and ground fighting with Taliban in Farah province’s Bala Buluk district nearly a week ago is disputed.

President Hamid Karzai has said that 125-130 civilians, including children and women, were killed in the strikes alone. Other Afghan officials have issued differing tolls, one as high as 167.

The US military acknowledges that “a number” died in the incident but says it is not clear if they died in the air strikes or ground battles. There is also evidence the Taliban may have killed some people themselves, it said in a statement on Saturday.

 The Afghan tolls would make the Farah incident one of the deadliest for civilians in foreign military strikes since the US-led led the 2001 invasion that ousted the hardline Taliban regime.

Fighting flares in northwest Pak, 230 Taliban killed

 

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Posted: Sunday , May 10, 2009 in Indian Express 

Islamabad: Over 230 Taliban were killed in fierce fighting with troops in Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt, the military said on Sunday, as President Asif Ali Zardari asserted that his government was determined to eliminate all terrorists holed up in the restive Swat valley.

Amid intensification in the military offensive, thousands of terrified civilians fled the scenic valley after relaxation of curfew, even as the authorities voiced fears that over a million people could be displaced due to fighting.

About 60 Taliban were killed when troops targeted militant positions in Swat, including the rebel strongholds of Peochar and Fizaghat, the military said in a statement.

About 60 Taliban were killed when troops targeted militant positions in Swat, including the rebel strongholds of Peochar and Fizaghat, the military said in a statement. 

Another 150 militants were killed when security forces destroyed a Taliban training camp at Banai Baba in Shangla district. Bodies and weapons were found in the area, the statement said. Five more militants were killed in a clash in nearby Dir district.

At least 26 pro-Taliban fighters were killed and 16 more injured when troops repulsed an attack by militants on a security check post in Mohmand tribal region early this morning. Fourteen security personnel were also injured in the clashes that erupted when about 300 militants attacked a check post of the Mohmand Rifles.

Two soldiers were killed in operations in Shangla, while another soldier was injured in Dir.

It  is not the time to protest US or INDIA. We have to be united in this Civil War of Pakistan and against Talibanization of Afghanistan. Talibans should be up-rooted both from Pak And Afghan. We too bleed for the innocent Civilians. But must defeat the Taliban Terrorism against Humanity. 

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The Terrorist Face of Pakistan, Difficult to Change.

May 10, 2009

‘Pakistan is Al Qaeda’s global base’

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Indo-Asian News Service
Washington, May 09, 2009
Pakistan has become the nerve centre of Al Qaeda’s global operations to plan attacks around the world even while the Pakistani Taliban are planning a “surge” of their own, according to a top American military commander.

Senior leaders of Al Qaeda are using sanctuaries in Pakistan’s lawless frontier regions to plan new terror attacks and funnel money, manpower and guidance to affiliates around the world, Gen. David Petraeus, US Central Command chief, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Pakistan has become the nerve centre of Al Qaeda’s global operations, allowing the terror group to re-establish its organizational structure and build stronger ties to Al Qaeda offshoots in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and parts of Europe, he said.

The comments underscored the growing US belief that Pakistan has displaced Afghanistan as Al Qaeda ‘s main stronghold, the Journal noted. “It is the headquarters of the Al Qaeda senior leadership,” the general was quoted as saying.

In the interview, Petraeus also warned of difficult months ahead in Afghanistan, saying Taliban militants are moving weapons and forces into areas where the US is adding troops, planning a “surge” of their own to counter the US plan.

The US had intelligence showing that the Taliban were deploying new fighters to southern Afghanistan, appointing new local commanders, and prepositioning weapons and other supplies, he said.

“We have every expectation that the Taliban will fight to retain 

the sanctuaries and safe havens that they’ve been able to establish,” he was quoted as saying.

US officials once believed that years of strikes had broken Al Qaeda ‘s leadership into smaller, less effective splinter groups.

But in the interview, Petraeus said US intelligence information suggested that Al Qaeda has re-emerged as a centrally directed organization capable of helping to plan attacks in other countries.

“There is a degree of hierarchy, there is a degree of interconnection, and there is certainly a flow of people, money, expertise, explosives and knowledge,” he was quoted as saying.

Petraeus painted a picture of a globalised Al Qaeda that maintains extensive logistical and communications links to terror groups in Morocco, Somalia and other countries.

Pakistan is basically a Taliban State.

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Sat, May 9, 2009

Pakistan basically Taliban state

By SALIM MANSUR  www.edmontonsun.com

There is frantic concern in Washington and elsewhere that Pakistan has reached its tipping point and might succumb to the Taliban forces entrenched barely 80 km (50 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

But the concern is misleading. A country of some 160 million Muslims is not about to be overrun by the Taliban. On the contrary, Pakistan is more or less a Taliban state shaped by its origin and history.

This is the unpalatable reality that cannot be publicly discussed in Washington, London or Ottawa due to diplomatic niceties. It is also complicated by the patron-client relationship the Pakistani elite pursued with the U.S. over the past six decades as a means to counter India’s dominant position in the region.

Pakistan was forcefully established by an elite on the basis of an exclusivist and bigoted idea that since India’s Muslims constitute a “nation” they deserve a state of their own.

The perversion of Islam into a nationalist ideology hugely aggravated communal politics in undivided India that would not end with the partitioning of the subcontinent in 1947. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, ruthlessly planned this division when he called for direct action — communal blood-letting — by his supporters which led to the massive Hindu-Muslim riots known as the Great Calcutta killings of August 1946.

This act of terror made certain that trust between Hindus and Muslims was irreparably broken, and Britain was compelled to depart by partitioning India.

To recall this history is to have an inkling of the sort of a country that emerged as a result of terrorism followed by ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslim population — most Hindus and Sikhs left or were forcefully driven out from present-day Pakistan.

Subsequently, the Pakistani elite declared the Ahmadiyyas — a small peace-loving sect of minority Muslims — to be non-Muslims, and persecuted them as the harbinger of further bigotry to be unleashed in the slide of Jinnah’s Pakistan into a Taliban state.

The economic exploitation of former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by the ruling elite began with Mr. Jinnah imposing Urdu as the national language on Bengali Muslims with their own rich linguistic and cultural tradition. Eventually the two halves of Pakistan would tear apart in 1971 following civil war and systematic massacre of Bengalis by the Pakistani military.

Since 1971 the unremorseful and bloody-minded ruling elite of Pakistan — civil and military — pushed Pakistan deeper into a dependency alliance with Saudi Arabia.

It meant importing the Saudi version of Islam — Wahhabism — and its spread deep across the country through the rapid expansion of religious schools and mosques funded by money from the Gulf countries. The products of these schools and mosques are the Taliban “jihadis,” or holy-warriors, who set forth for Afghanistan in the war against the former Soviet Union.

Steel fist

The Pakistani elite is corrupt, opportunistic and ruthless. Behind the conniving smile of the civilian politician is the steel fist of the military with nuclear weapons.

The fear of Taliban acquiring Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is manufactured by the elite to garner diplomatic and financial support from the West.

This is extortion brazenly practised by the elite responsible for making Pakistan into a rogue state with its people crushed by poverty. It is this reality that makes for terror and war in the region, and threatens peace beyond.

viewers can contact : salim.mansur@sunmedia.ca

Facts and updates about conflict in Pakistan’s Swat

May 10, 2009

55 Taliban killed in various areas of Swat

 * Military statement says Taliban in Mingora have caused civilian casualties

 Staff Report : The Daily Times @ www.dailytimes.com.pk  10th May, 2009

We have hit certain militant positions in Mingora with helicopter gunships,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Daily Times. “The Taliban were harassing the civil population and intensely involved in various activities of looting and arson in the city of Mingora and, in an early morning attack, helicopters engaged militant hideouts and reportedly left 15 militants dead,” Abbas added.

Civilian casualties: Security forces also targeted suspected Taliban positions at Rama Kandhao ridge in Matta tehsil and destroyed the main headquarters of the Taliban there, a military statement added. “Reportedly, 30 to 40 militants have been killed,” it added. Indiscriminate mortar fire by the Taliban in Mingora had caused civilian casualties, it said but no details were provided. A Taliban source confirmed heavy bombardment of the Taliban positions by jet planes and helicopters.

Pak intensifies offensive, 140 militants killed 

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Posted: Saturday , May 09, 2009  in Indian Express

@ www.indianexpress.com 09th May, 2009

Pressing with their military offensive to “eliminate” the Taliban, Pakistani fighter jets and helicopter gunships on Friday pounded militant hideouts in the restive Swat valley and nearby areas where the troops killed 140 insurgents in fierce battles.

“The Army is now engaged in a full scale operation to eliminate miscreants,” Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told a press briefing.

The troops directed heavy artillery fire as they encountered stiff resistance from Taliban fighters. The military said that more than 5,000 militants might be holed up in the district including fighters from Waziristan and from groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Army revised its estimates from the earlier 700, saying that there may be about 4,000 to 5,000 militants in Swat, who have been joined by fighters from South Waziristan and “splinter groups of the Jaish-e-Mohammed” from Punjab. Pakistani officials refer to al-Qaeda as fighters from Waziristan.

“They are on the run and trying to block the exodus of civilians from the area. During the last 24 hours, approximately over 140 militants have been killed in different areas,” he said. The ongoing operations across the districts of Swat, Buner and Dir had already killed 300 militants.

Though the Army has massed tanks and heavy fire power, eyewitnesses quoted by TV channels reported that Mingora was still being held by the Taliban.

 “Mingora is totally under Taliban control. They are roaming the streets with mortars and Kalashnikovs and there are no security forces in sight anywhere,” residents told the channels.

Fighter jets carried out raids on Friday against Taliban hideouts in Matta, Kabal and Khawajakhela towns of Swat after a night of intense gunfire in these Taliban strongholds, a military spokesman said.

“Our troops are advancing in lower Dir and last night most intense shelling was directed on Maidan town in the last 12 days,” Gen Abbas said. As Army moved fresh troops to the area, a complete curfew was imposed in all outlying areas to facilitate the movements of convoys.

 “The people have now realise

 The Pakistan Army is advancing on three fronts against the Taliban — into Buner, Dir and Swat — but the most intense fighting is reported from Swat valley. The Taliban in Swat are “battle-hardy” militants who had learned from fighting the security forces over the past few years, Athar Abbas told Dawn News channel.

d that their agenda goes much beyond the Nizam-e-Adl (Regulation) or Sharia courts… They have a design to expand their objectives and therefore the reason for going into Buner and Dir was a manifestation of their design,” he said.

 

‘Half a million displaced by violence’

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‘This will be the biggest displacement of Pakistanis since independence.’

New York Times

Posted: Saturday , May 09, 2009 at 0126 hrs IST  

Islamabad:

Day after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani vowed to “eliminate” the Taliban, who have taken over large parts of the country, Pakistani warplanes were reported on Friday strafing targets in Swat.

 International relief agencies in Geneva said up to half a million people had been uprooted by the latest upsurge in violence, adding to a similar number already displaced by conflict in the area.

 William Spindler, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, said that up to 200,000 people had arrived in safe areas over the past few days and that there could be another 300,000 on the move or about to flee areas in northwestern Pakistan.

The numbers were in addition to 555,000 counted since last August fleeing the areas of Dir, Buner and Swat, he said in a telephone interview.

“We could be talking about a total of one million” since last August including the latest displaced people, he said. The figure is much higher than previously reported by international organisations. Spindler said the figures for the new exodus were from provincial authorities and that the relief agency considered them reliable.

In a separate statement, Ron Redmond, another spokesman for the UN refugee commissioner, said a “situation of massive displacement” could be unfolding “as the confrontation between Government forces and militants becomes more widespread”.

The authorities had established three new tented camps to absorb some of the people “traveling in rickshaws, cars, small trucks and buses,” Redmond said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “Most carry little more than the clothes on their backs.”

 The International Committee of the Red Cross gave similar estimates on Friday of the number of people displaced by the conflict, though a spokesman for the Red Cross in Islamabad, Sébastien Brack, stressed that, due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, “no-one has reliable figures”.

Facts about conflict in Pakistan’s Swat

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Reuters

May 08, 2009

Pakistani aircraft bombed Taliban positions in the militants’ Swat valley bastion on Friday, a day after the prime minister ordered the military to eliminate terrorists and on the heels of a commitment to the United States to fight extremists.Helicopter gunships, fighters and troops were all involved in operations in Swat, and up to 12 militants were killed after as many as 55 were killed the previous day, Major Nasir Khan, a military spokesman in Swat, said by telephone.Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had said in a televised address that militants were trying to hold the country hostage at gunpoint, and set the stage for a major offensive against Taliban fighters in Swat, where a peace pact has collapsed.Here are some facts about Swat and the insurgency there.

* Swat, about 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, is not on the Afghan border. Nevertheless Western countries with troops in Afghanistan fear the area could turn into a base for militants fighting in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

* Islamist militancy emerged in Swat, an alpine beauty spot and former tourist favourite, in the 1990s when cleric Sufi Mohammad took up arms to impose sharia law there and in neighbouring areas of the Malakand region.

* Mohammad was arrested after he returned to Pakistan having led thousands of fighters to Afghanistan in 2001 in a vain attempt to help the Taliban resist U.S.-backed forces.

* Pakistani authorities released him in 2008 in a bid to defuse another uprising, led by his son-in-law cleric Fazlullah, who has ties with other Pakistani Taliban factions and al Qaeda.

* Fazlullah called his men to arms after a military assault on the Red Mosque in Islamabad in mid-2007 to put down an armed movement seeking to impose Islamic law. Fazlullah used illegal FM radio to propagate his message and became known as Mullah Radio.

* The army deployed troops in Swat in October 2007 and used artillery and gunship helicopters to reassert control. But insecurity mounted after a civilian government came to power last year and tried to reach a negotiated settlement.

* A peace accord fell apart in May 2008. After that hundreds, including soldiers, militants and civilians, died in battles.

* Militants unleashed a reign of terror, killing and beheading politicians, singers, soldiers and opponents. They banned female education and destroyed nearly 200 girls’ schools.

* About 1,200 people were killed since late 2007 and 250,000 to 500,000 fled, leaving the militants in virtual control.

* Pakistan offered in February to introduce Islamic law in Swat and nearby areas in a bid to take the steam out of the insurgency. The militants announced an indefinite ceasefire after the army said it was halting operations in the region. President Asif Ali Zardari signed a regulation imposing sharia in the area last month.

* But the Taliban refused to give up their guns and pushed into Buner, only 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad, and another district adjacent to Swat.

* Amid mounting concern at home and abroad, security forces launched an offensive to expel militants from Buner and another
district near Swat on April 26.

* A Taliban spokesman said this week the peace pact would end unless the government halted its offensive in Buner, but it continued and the government then moved against Taliban positions within Swat itself.

* On Thursday the Prime Minister directed the military “to eliminate the militants and terrorists”, and on Friday it launched fresh operations in Swat.

War on Taliban will displace five lakh in Swat

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Associated Press

Mingora, May 05, 2009

 

Black-turbaned militants roamed city streets and seized buildings in a northwestern Pakistan valley on Tuesday as thousands of people fled fighting between the Taliban and troops that the government said could lead to an exodus of half a million people. The Taliban declared the end of their peace deal with the government.

Buses carrying the residents of Mingora, the region’s main town, were crammed inside and out: Refugees clambered onto the roofs after seats and floors filled up. Children and adults alike carried their belongings on their heads and backs — all of them fleeing fighting they fear is about to consume the region.

Khushal Khan, the top administrator in Swat, said Taliban militants were roaming the area and laying mines.

A witness in Mingora told an AP reporter that black-turbaned militants were deployed on most streets and on high buildings, and security forces were barricaded in their bases.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the militants were in control of “90 per cent” of the valley. He accused the government of caving to US pressure.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the North West Frontier Province, said up to 500,000 people were expected to flee the valley. Hundreds are already gone, adding to roughly half a million people driven from other regions in the northwest over the last year by fighting between soldiers and insurgents, witnesses said.

Hussain said authorities were releasing emergency funds and preparing six new refugee camps to house them.

Pak gearing up to deal with Swat refugees

Reuters

Posted: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 at 1735 hrs IST

 Mardan:

 Pakistan is bracing for it’s biggest ever displacement of people, as many as 800,000, as a military offensive against Taliban militants in their stronghold in the Swat valley appears imminent.

Expanding Taliban influence in nuclear-armed Pakistan has spread alarm at home and abroad and will be a core issue when US President Barack Obama meets his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts in Washington later on Wednesday.

 Convoys of military vehicles carrying troops and artillery were seen heading towards Swat as authorities in Mardan, the second biggest city in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), search for sites for camps for people uprooted by fighting.

“Initially, we were estimating that 100,000 to 200,000 people would leave their homes but now we are expecting displacement of 600,000 to 800,000,” Khalid Khan Umerzai, commissioner of the Mardan division in NWFP, told Reuters on Wednesday.

“This will be the biggest displacement of Pakistanis since independence,” he said, adding about 1.6 million people live in Swat.

 In February, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, estimated up to 600,000 people could be uprooted because of fighting in Pakistan’s northwest.

 Mardan division is the main staging point for people fleeing the fighting in Malakand where Swat is located, and the government has set up three camps for the uprooted people and is opening three more.

 A February peace pact aimed at ending Taliban violence in Swat is in tatters and thousands of people fled from Mingora, the region’s main town, on Tuesday after a government official said fighting was expected.

Umerzai said 35,000 people had been registered in the three camps but only a handful of them were living there as most had found shelter with relatives in Mardan and elsewhere. Many more were unregistered.

 “We Are Ruined”

 “If the conflict lasts longer, then we expect those living outside camps to come to the camps and that will be a huge problem,” Umerzai said.

 He said the provincial government was short of funds and seeking help from the central government for the growing number of displaced.

 On Marden’s outskirts, a tent village has been set up with the help of the United Nations and international aid agencies on sprawling ground levelled for construction of a housing complex.

 About 350 families are living in tents provided by the UNHCR in the Sheikh Shehzad camp, while a large number of people were lined up outside to get registered.

“I could bring just one blanket and a few clothes for my children with me,” said Omar Bacha, a resident of Mingora, who arrived in the camp on Wednesday, as nearby his seven-year-old son cuddled his shirtless younger brother.

 “We are ruined,” said bearded Behroz Khan. “Taliban are on the ground, helicopters are in the sky, we are caught in between.”

At the back of the camp, poor women, some carrying infants in their laps, were sitting on the ground waiting impatiently for their turn to be registered, which would enable them to get free food and other basic supplies.

 Food was being cooked in about 20 cauldrons nearby while labourers dug ditches to lay sanitation pipes.

“While we cannot give them the comfort of their home, we will try to make it as easy for them as possible,” Fikret Akcura, the top UN official in Pakistan, said in a statement.PESHAWAR: Security forces killed 55 Taliban in various areas of Swat on Saturday, while 14 Taliban were killed in Lower Dir district after gunship helicopters targeted Maidan area.

Terrorism in Pak, Difficult to control

May 10, 2009

About 3,000 terrorists in Swat Valley would be killed: Zardari 

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There is frantic concern in Washington and elsewhere that Pakistan has reached its tipping point and might succumb to the Taliban forces entrenched barely 80 km (50 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.
But the concern is misleading. A country of some 160 million Muslims is not about to be overrun by the Taliban. On the contrary, Pakistan is more or less a Taliban state shaped by its origin and history.
This is the unpalatable reality that cannot be publicly discussed in Washington, London or Ottawa due to diplomatic niceties. It is also complicated by the patron-client relationship the Pakistani elite pursued with the U.S. over the past six decades as a means to counter India’s dominant position in the region.
Pakistan was forcefully established by an elite on the basis of an exclusivist and bigoted idea that since India’s Muslims constitute a “nation” they deserve a state of their own.
The perversion of Islam into a nationalist ideology hugely aggravated communal politics in undivided India that would not end with the partitioning of the subcontinent in 1947. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, ruthlessly planned this division when he called for direct action — communal blood-letting — by his supporters which led to the massive Hindu-Muslim riots known as the Great Calcutta killings of August 1946.
This act of terror made certain that trust between Hindus and Muslims was irreparably broken, and Britain was compelled to depart by partitioning India.
To recall this history is to have an inkling of the sort of a country that emerged as a result of terrorism followed by ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslim population — most Hindus and Sikhs left or were forcefully driven out from present-day Pakistan.
Subsequently, the Pakistani elite declared the Ahmadiyyas — a small peace-loving sect of minority Muslims — to be non-Muslims, and persecuted them as the harbinger of further bigotry to be unleashed in the slide of Jinnah’s Pakistan into a Taliban state.
The economic exploitation of former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by the ruling elite began with Mr. Jinnah imposing Urdu as the national language on Bengali Muslims with their own rich linguistic and cultural tradition. Eventually the two halves of Pakistan would tear apart in 1971 following civil war and systematic massacre of Bengalis by the Pakistani military.
Since 1971 the unremorseful and bloody-minded ruling elite of Pakistan — civil and military — pushed Pakistan deeper into a dependency alliance with Saudi Arabia.
It meant importing the Saudi version of Islam — Wahhabism — and its spread deep across the country through the rapid expansion of religious schools and mosques funded by money from the Gulf countries. The products of these schools and mosques are the Taliban “jihadis,” or holy-warriors, who set forth for Afghanistan in the war against the former Soviet Union.
Steel fist
The Pakistani elite is corrupt, opportunistic and ruthless. Behind the conniving smile of the civilian politician is the steel fist of the military with nuclear weapons.
The fear of Taliban acquiring Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is manufactured by the elite to garner diplomatic and financial support from the West.
This is extortion brazenly practised by the elite responsible for making Pakistan into a rogue state with its people crushed by poverty. It is this reality that makes for terror and war in the region, and threatens peace beyond.

Observing that about 3,000 terrorists were in Swat valley, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said his government is determined to kill them all to bring life to normalcy in the picturesque valley in the vicinity of Islamabad.

“I think the last count we have managed to dislodge most of the folks from the mountains and the miscreants have lost about 145 people. So that’s 145 of the ‘nasties’ dead, and we are still in operation,” Zardari said in an interview with the PBS newschannel.

He said that Pakistan Army has been carrying out operation against the terrorists and they had some successes earlier and “this success is going to be even more effective.”

When asked to clarify on the statement made by his Prime Minister that the objective was to “eliminate the militants and terrorists,” Zardari said: “That means clearing out the area of the miscreants and bringing life to normalcy. … If they can, they kill our soldiers and we do the same.”

When interviewer, Margaret Warner asked him to clarify what “eliminate” means, Zardari said “eliminate means exactly what it means.”

When she asked: “Killing them all”. Zardari replied: “That’s what it means.”

It could be the toughest message coming from Pakistan President against the terrorists so far.

Zardari said the Swat peace agreement with militants no longer exists.

“The deal was based upon that the fact that they would bring peace and lay down the arms. They refuse to lay down arms and they did not bring peace to the region. So yes, you can say that the deal is off,” he said.

Acknowledging that there has been a presence of the Taliban in the Swat Valley, Zardari however asserted that they were never running the show.

“There was a presence of the Taliban. We were there and we had – you know this is the third operation in Swat. We have encountered them before and we had an agreement which failed – it did not work. So now they have to be eliminated.”

Zardari also said that the deal could not be revived in case the Taliban abide by the contours of the agreement and stop taking military action.

Pakistan President said after the army operation was over non-governmental and humanitarian organizations would be asked to move in the area to provide aid.

“We can’t have the aid donors going in there and getting casualties on them also. So it is a little precarious, a little difficult situation. But the moment it settles down, they will be allowed to go there. At the moment, the situation is the people have come out of the area. So we are looking after them in camps. Most of them have gone to their own extended families. That’s the way it is playing out,” he said.

frantic concern in

Army’s ability to defeat Taliban questioned

* Globe and Mail says Pakistan military has been trained and equipped to fight India

Staff Report : The Daily Times  @  www.dailytimes.com.pk

TORONTO: Though Pakistan has launched a ‘full-scale’ operation to wrest back the control of Swat from the Taliban, questions remain about whether the army is up to the task of defeating the insurgency, The Globe and Mail reported on Saturday.

While Pakistan has an army of well over half a million men, they have been trained and equipped to fight India, across the plains of the Punjab, not their own people in the mountains of the northwest, the paper said.

Many of the operations in Pakistan have been haltingly pursued and ended with peace deals that left the extremists in charge.

More significant challenges for Pakistan remain even if the army is successful in defeating Taliban in Swat, the paper said, adding that the challenges include how to deal with areas such as South Waziristan where well-entrenched Taliban have safe haven.

While Swat and Buner are the farthest that the insurgents have moved into Pakistan, their base remains the tribal territory, especially South Waziristan where there is no military operation.

If the army will move against the extremists in the Tribal Areas that harbour Afghan insurgents and those who cross the border to fight, the country would face a colossal enemy, the paper said.

The battle for Swat is not a contest over a single valley, it is a war between a democratic government, closely allied to Washington, and a rebel movement intent on imposing its brand of fundamentalism on as much of the country as possible, the paper said.

Taliban vows to ‘eliminate’ Pakistan’s top leadership

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Angered by Pakistan government’s decision to launch an all out war against them, the Taliban has vowed to ‘eliminate’ country’s top leadership including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and their close family members.

“We thought that being a member of a religious family, Gilani will support our demand of implementing Sharia in the Malakand division but instead he has announced an all-out war against us, which has angered our commanders as well as fighters,” an unnamed Taliban commander told The News daily.

The militant commander, who spoke to the newspaper by phone, said after Gilani declared during an address to the nation on Thursday that the Taliban would be wiped out from the Swat Valley and adjoining areas, the militants had started planning to “eliminate the top leaders of the ruling alliance, including President, Prime Minister and their close family members and aides”.

The commander said Gilani’s hometown of Multan and tomb of former premier Benazir Bhutto might also be targeted by the militants.
 
“Besides, the personnel and installations of security forces, we have now also included civilian rulers in our hit list. We will definitely need some time to plan our actions but it is not impossible for us and we have all the means to implement our plan of attack anywhere in Pakistan,” he claimed.