Pakistan vows to take anti-Taliban operations to logical conclusion

May 25th, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 25 (IANS) Pakistan Monday reiterated that the anti-Taliban operations being conducted in the country’s restive northwest would be taken to their logical conclusion, even as the military reported major successes in the militant’s Swat stronghold.
“The government had to resort to the army operation to establish its writ” after the Taliban violated a peace accord with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government, Gilani said while speaking to visiting US Senators Patrick Leahy, Mark Warner and Sheldon Whitehouse.

“The whole nation and all institutions of Pakistan were united in undertaking the military operation,” the prime minister added.

He also appealed to the US and world community to “do more” in helping Pakistan rehabilitate an estimated 2.5 billion civilians who have been uprooted by the military operations in Swat and two other districts of the NWFP.

The military said Monday the security forces had secured the Taliban stronghold of Malaam Jabba in Swat.

“After facing stiff resistance, the security Forces have secured Maalam Jabba, the stronghold of militant-terrorists in Swat,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

“Maalam Jabba, located on the main line of communications, connects Swat Valley with Mansehra. It was being used as a training centre and logistic base by terrorists,” the statement added.

With the operations in Mingora, Swat’s largest town, almost concluding, the security forces were now focusing on the town of Kabbal, “where militants have training facilities and fleeing militants from Mingora are gathering”, the statement said.

“Two important strongholds en route - Aligrama and Guljaba - have been secured. The security forces are facing stiff resistance,” the statement added.

When the security forces’ operations began April 26, the military estimated there were some 5,000 Taliban fighters in the Swat, Buner and Lower Dir districts. It now says that about half of these have fled the region, while some 1,100 have been killed but there is no independent conformation of this since the media has been barred from the area.

The military says casualties on its side have been relatively light with some 70 officers and soldiers losing their lives.

The military went into action after the Taliban violated a controversial peace accord with the NWFP and moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy Buner, which is just 100 km from 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 then spread to Buner and Swat.

The military operations have triggered the largest and swiftest refugee exodus anywhere in the world in recent times, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says.

The social welfare department of the NWFP government says it has registered 1.45 million refugees at its 22 relief camps but the actual number could be as high as 2.5 million as many of the displaced persons could be staying with friends and relatives.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who met some of displaced people during a three-day visit to Pakistan earlier this month, has called for urgent and massive international help from governments and other donors for those left homeless by fighting.

On Friday, the UN office in Islamabad $543 million would be required for the rehabilitation of the displaced people. A day earlier, Pakistan had won pledges of $244 million at a donors conference in Islamabad.

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