No time frame for anti-Taliban operations: Pakistani defence minister

May 15th, 2009 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 15 (IANS) No time frame has been laid down for the military operations against the Taliban in Pakistan’s restive northwest, the defence minister has said, while the junior interior minister said it would be completed in a month.
“The army is clearing the areas gradually and no time frame could be given in this regard,” Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar told the APP news agency.

According to Mukhtar, it was up to the army to evolve the strategy for the operations in Swat and two other districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and he would not like to comment on this.

Questioned about reports of collateral damage due to the army operation, he said the army was making the utmost efforts to avoid this.

Heavy artillery, Mukhtar pointed out, was only being used to pound militants hideouts.

Speaking to reporters here, Minister of State for Interior Tasnim Ahmad Qureshi said the military operations would be successfully completed within a month.

He did not elaborate.

The Pakistani Army went into action against the Taliban April 26 after they violated a controversial peace accord with the NWFP government and instead moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner district that is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations began in Lower Dir to the west of Swat and which is the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who had brokered the peace accord.

The operations subsequently spread to Buner and Swat.

The security forces achieved major success Wednesday when heliborne troops, after a day-long battle, captured Peochar, the headquarters of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, who is also Sufi Mohammad’s son-in-law.

Over 800 militants have been killed in the operations so far.

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