Pak Cabinet endorses operation against Taliban in Swat

May 9th, 2009 - 7:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Islamabad, May 9 (ANI): The Pakistan Cabinet on Saturday endorsed the ongoing military operation against the Taliban and other militants in the Malakand division of the country’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

In a media briefing following the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said the cabinet has decided to set up a PM fund for the affectees of military operation with a sum of Rs.200 million deposited.

Gilani said the directives had been issued to all Pakistani missions abroad to step up efforts for global assistance for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

He also announced that the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and the ministry of health have been directed to take care of the IDPs.

He said a parliamentary delegation will be sent to variouis capital to project Pakistan’s viewpoint on prevailing situation.

The Prime Minister’s announcement came as the Pakistani Army continues to press ahead with a vigorous offensive against the Taliban militants who have taken control of a broad swath of territory northwest of the capital, sending tens of thousands of Pakistanis fleeing the fighting.

According to the New York Times, the exodus - by truck, car, foot and horse cart - has reached close to 200,000 people, forcing relief workers to erect new rows of tents in camps along the clotted road running south from the Swat Valley.

Relief officials said as many as 300,000 people were moving or preparing to flee.

The unfolding humanitarian crisis has prompted the Pakistani Army to move with caution against over 4000 Taliban militants in Swat, the epicenter of a power struggle over months between government forces and the militants.

Army officers said they were confronting the militants, as they have taken advantage of a peace agreement to seize control of much of the district and its government buildings.

At the military’s headquarters in Rawalpindi, Major General Athar Abbas made few claims of territorial progress on Friday. He said that helicopters strafed militants in Swat over the previous 24 hours, and that 140 militants and 7 Pakistani soldiers had been killed.

“They are on the run and trying to block the exodus of innocent civilians by preventing their departure through coercion,” Major General Abbas said.

Militant resistance in neighboring Buner, just 60 miles from Islamabad, has decreased considerably, Major General Abbas said. He said the military had lifted a curfew in Buner to allow civilians to escape toward Mardan and other areas. (ANI)

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