‘Pakistani Army unhappy over government’s handling of Taliban’April 28th, 2009 - 11:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) A close aide of former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf indicated Tuesday the country’s military was unhappy over the manner in which the civilian government was tackling the Taliban in the restive northwest.
“If the government hadn’t delayed, there wouldn’t have been any Taliban today,” Maj. Gen. (Retd) Rashid Qureshi maintained while participating in a panel discussion on NDTV news channel.
His reference was to a ceasefire declared in February in the Malakand division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to enable the inking of a controversial peace deal in the area.
“When we went back, the people were very unhappy with us. They said we had deserted them when they needed us the most,” said Qureshi, who served as the head of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) during the Musharraf regime.
He became the presidential spokesman after Musharraf shed his army chief’s uniform and took oath as a civilian president.
Pakistani security forces Tuesday went into action against the Taliban who had occupied the Buner district in the NWFP in violation of the peace accord.
Also on Tuesday, the Pakistani Army said it had concluded an operation against the Taliban in the neighbouring Lower Dir district.
The two districts, as also the Swat Valley, form part of the Malakand division, over much of which the Taliban’s writ runs.
A peace deal had envisaged the imposition of Sharia laws in Malakand in return for the Taliban laying down their arms. The Taliban, however, did not lay down their arms.
The Taliban had suspended the accord after the Pakistani forces went into action in Lower Dir Sunday. With Tuesday’s developments, the deal is all but dead, analysts here said.