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