Pakistan’s political parties endorse anti-Taliban operations (Lead)

May 18th, 2009 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 18 (IANS) Pakistan’s political parties across the spectrum have endorsed the military’s operations against the Taliban in the country’s restive northwest, a senior minister said Monday.
“All parties have unanimously approved a resolution in favour of the Swat operation,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said.

He was speaking to reporters here after an all-party conference chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to brief the political leadership on the military action in Swat and two other districts in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) that the military says has so far resulted in the elimination of some 1,000 militants.

In his opening remarks at the conference, Gilani urged consensus across the political spectrum on combating terror, saying that the military operations in NWFP would continue till the militants were eliminated and civilians uprooted by the conflict were able to return to their homes.

“Unless political forces step in to resolve the situation, there is no guarantee of a sustainable solution against terrorism and extremism,” Gilani said.

In this context, he lamented that while the government had adopted the policy of dialogue, deterrence and development in tackling militancy, it was accused by some political parties of “following foreign directives”.

“I want to make it clear that the focus of our policies is only Pakistan, and nothing else. We are engaged in ensuring peace and prosperity of the country, with patience,” the prime minister maintained.

The security forces had gone into action April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace accord with the NWFP government 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 says that Lower Dir and Buner have been cleared of the Taliban and that major successes have been achieved in Swat.

On Friday, Pakistan’s political leaders were briefed in-camera by army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on the security forces’ operations.

Monday’s all-party conference, attended by leaders of all major political and religious parties discussed in detail the situation arising out of the activities of the militants and extremists in parts of NWFP that forced the government to undertake military action, APP news agency reported.

Gilani said the army action in Swat was continuing successfully but it was not a permanent solution.

It had become necessary because the militants had unleashed violence and brutality on innocent people and made their lives unbearable.

“It was, therefore, decided to call in the army in the best national interests and for the safety of our own people,” Gilani contended.

The military, the prime minister said, would remain in Swat until peace was fully restored and the one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) could return to their homes.

Along with the military action, he said, the rehabilitation of the IDPs was equally important. The government would leave no stone unturned for their rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged property, he added.

“The displaced people of Swat are the guests of the entire country. They should not consider themselves as dejected, because the government honours their sacrifice.”

The National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistan’s parliament, had unanimously endorsed the NWFP peace deal April 13, President Asif Ali Zardari signed it into law the same evening and it came into force to days later.

Under the accord, Sharia laws were to be imposed in Swat, Buner, Dir and four other districts of the NWFP that are collectively known as the Malakand division in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.

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