Zardari declares ‘total war’ against militancy

June 1st, 2009 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 1 (IANS) Declaring a “total war” against militancy, President Asif Ali Zardari Monday urged all sections of Pakistani society to “defeat the mindset that creates and nurtures militancy”.
“The war against militancy is a total war and each and every section of the society must rise to the occasion to defeat the mindset that creates and nurtures militancy”, APP quoted the president as declaring at a high-level meeting at the Aiwan-e-Sadr to review the law and order situation in the wake of the military’s anti-Taliban operations in the restive North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani co-chaired the meeting.

Noting that the country could not afford to lose the ongoing war, Zardari described the present operations against the militants as also a war of ideas.

“For winning this battle of ideas, we need to carry out necessary reforms in the education system, particularly in Madrassa education, so as to produce tolerant, moderate and forward looking youth who naturally detest militancy, extremism and intolerance,” the president contended.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Zardari expressed satisfaction over the success achieved in the NWFP, holding that the day was not far when the militants would be so crippled that they will pose no threat to the people and the country.

Half of the war was to subdue and defeat the militants militarily and the other half was to win the hearts and minds of the three million internally displaced persons who had fled the fighting in the Swat, Buner and Lower Dir districts of the NWFP, Zardari added.

He said that while the government was determined to pursue fight to the finish, it was also working on a plan to strengthen the capacity of law enforcing agencies to win the war.

The president also advised the government to step up implementation of the plan to strengthen law-enforcing agencies. The will to fight must be strengthened with the capacity to fight, he pointed out.

The president also underlined the need for strengthening the prosecution mechanism to bring the militants and criminals to speedy and efficient justice within the existing legal frame-work and laws.

Zardari also praised the armed forces and the law enforcement agencies for their courageous fight against militants and for sacrifices they had made for the cause.

The meeting was attended, among others, by the federal ministers for information and the interior, the four provincial chief ministers, the army chief, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies and senior bureaucrats and police officers.

Speaking separately with Gilani before the high-level meeting, Zardari said that the government, after ensuring the safe and honourable return of the displaced people to their homes, would launch a massive reconstruction process of the demolished property of the affected people.

The security forces were ordered into action April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace deal with the NWFP government and instead 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 who is Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah’s father-in-law, and later spread to Buner and Swat.

Under the peace deal, the Taliban were to lay down arms in return for Sharia laws in Swat, Buner, Lower Dir and four other districts of the NWFP that are collectively known as the Malakand division.

The military operations have triggered the biggest and fastest civilian exodus in recent times.

The social welfare department of NWFP has registered some 1.4 million refugees at its camps but the UN estimates the number could be as high as 3 million as many could be staying with relatives and friends.

The UN estimates that close to $543 million would be required for the relief and rehabilitation of the refugees.

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