Civil servants in Pakistan’s northwest asked to return June 20

June 13th, 2009 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Peshawar, June 13 (IANS) Civil servants in Pakistan’s restive northwest, where the military is engaged in a major anti-Taliban offensive, have been asked to report for work by June 20 or face suspension.
North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Chief Minister Haider Khan Hoti told reporters here Saturday he had directed the civil administration in the Swat, Buner and Lower Dir areas to return to work by June 20 so that repair work on electricity, water, and gas utilities could be carried out.

“We would ensure return of internally displaced people by end of July,” Online news agency quoted him as saying.

Some three million civilians have been displaced from the three districts by the military operations, which continued for 49th day Saturday.

The military says it has largely secured Buner and Lower Dir districts and is now engaged in mopping up operations in Swat.

To go by military figures, over 1,400 Taliban have been killed in the fighting. There is, however, no independent confirmation of this as the media has been barred from the battle zone.

The military began its operations April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace deal with the NWFP government and instead moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner, which is just 100 km from Pakistani capital Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who had brokered the peace deal and who is the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah. They later spread to Buner and Lower Dir.

The military opened up a new front last week, going into action against the Taliban in NWFP’s Bunnu district and in the South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

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