Pak rejects UN call for ‘humanitarian pause’ in Swat offensive

May 27th, 2009 - 12:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Washington, May 27 (ANI): Responding to the United Nations call for a ‘humanitarian pause’ in the Swat offensive, the Pakistan Army has said such a halt in the offensive is not possible at present, as it would provide a breather to extremists.

“Lifting the curfew would mean letting the operational situation slip out of hand,” ISPR spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas said.

He said the government is also concerned about the plight of the people trapped in the war-zone, and is planning to airdrop supplies.

Major General Abbas claimed that the military has forced the Taliban fighters on the defensive.

“They’re in disarray and finding ways to sneak out,” he added.

Earlier, expressing concern over the Swat exodus and the plight of the thousands of displaced people, the United Nations (UN) is considering asking Pakistan to halt its offensive against the Taliban in the valley.

The United Nations said immediate and massive relief measures were needed for the civilians trapped in the conflict for which there is an urgent need ‘humanitarian pause’ in the war.

“We are … very concerned about those still trapped inside the conflict zone. A humanitarian pause is a subject of discussion and with the very good liaison we have with the armed forces, it is obviously something that we would not shy away from asking for,” head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan, Manuel Bessler said.

According to an estimate around 200,000 civilians are still trapped in Swat and tens of thousands in Buner and Lower Dir while the UNHCR said that almost 126,000 people were being displaced daily in the region.

Bessler said the army has been distributing food and providing medical assistance, but added that ‘more needs to be done’.

He said that the UN’s internal security division did not have enough information regarding the situation in the valley so that it could rush in its volunteers to work in the war zone.

According to a report of New York-based humanitarian agency, the Human Rights Watch (HRW), hundreds of people have been trapped between the extremists and security forces are being compelled to live with scant food and water as the security forces have imposed a continuous curfew in the region. (ANI)

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