Taliban target Islamabad, Lahore; talks on to disarm them in Swat (Roundup)

April 26th, 2009 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, April 26 (IANS) Around 300 terrorists, including suicide bombers, are believed to be headed towards the Pakistani capital Islamabad as well as Rawalpindi and Lahore cities to carry out major terror attacks as the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government held talks with a religious group to disarm the Taliban militia.
The News daily, quoting interior ministry sources, said the terror operations were planned by Al Qaeda linked Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and the Taliban Himayat Tehrik (THT).

Five taliban commanders would supervise the terror strikes, the sources said, adding that simultaneous suicide bombings followed by sniper attacks were planned.

The Taliban fighters are believed to have left North Waziristan 15 days ago.

Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah said foolproof security measures had been adopted to thwart such threats.

“The law-enforcement agencies have chalked out counter-strategies to deal with the situation,” Shah was quoted as saying.

An official, requesting anonymity, said the “Taliban commanders left North Waziristan April 11 for Islamabad, along with an explosives-laden Toyota Corolla bearing the registration number IDG-8720″.

Disarming the Taliban militia in Pakistan and granting general amnesty to them was discussed by the NWFP government with the religious group that brokered a peace deal with the Islamist militants in the restive Swat valley.

The NWFP government and the Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) negotiated the option of announcing general amnesty and completely disarming the Taliban in the Swat Valley, The News said.

The newspaper quoting sources said the TNSM was seeking the release of 200 Taliban prisoners.

The group has expressed willingness that its top clerics will “issue a joint religious edict asking for the disarmament of the Swat Taliban”, the newspaper said, quoting a source who is part of the negotiating team.

“The details of the edict are being finalised for achieving the major objective of disarming the Taliban,” the daily said.

“Once agreed, it would be signed by four to five top TNSM scholars, including Maulana Sufi Muhammad. The edict would demand from all the Taliban to lay down their arms, respect the rule of law and help the government in maintaining its writ in Swat and the Malakand division,” the source told The News.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani has urged the international community to help his country in its efforts to prevent the Talibanisation of Swat and Buner regions instead of giving lectures, the Online news agency reported.

“We have shared our concerns with the US and do not want Talibanisation in Pakistan at all,” Haqqani said.

The Swat deal aims to establish peace, he said, and made it clear that the deal did not mean “we have surrendered to militants”.

Haqqani said: “If the militants did not abide by the deal, then we will fight the militants if needed. The occupation of Buner by militants was not their military victory but reached there on the notion that the local people would welcome them.”

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