Pakistan fighting for survival against Taliban: Zardari

February 14th, 2009 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 14 (IANS) Pakistan is fighting a war for its survival against the Taliban, who have a presence in large parts of the country, President Asif Ali Zardari has said.

“Taliban want to overtake the state of Pakistan,” he told a US TV channel. “It is indispensable to halt rising influence of Taliban by using force as they desire to change our living style.”

The interview will be broadcast Sunday.

Noting that the military was backing the government in its war against terrorism along the country’s restive border with Afghanistan, Zardari said that but for this the Taliban would have overrun Islamabad.

Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Friday jointly presided over a high-level meeting to review the situation in tribal areas and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and decided to continue the military operation against Taliban militants in the turbulent Swat valley to re-establish the government’s writ.

“The meeting expressed satisfaction over the way the fight against militancy was proceeding and vowed to continue the campaign till the eradication of militancy and complete restoration of the writ of the government,” Dawn reported Saturday.

Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ISI Director General Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani provincial Chief Minister Haider Khan Hoti and Asfandyar Wali Khan, who heads the province’s ruling Awami National Party, were among those who attended the meeting.

The meeting was informed that the government would install jammers in Swat to block FM radio transmissions being used by militants for anti-government propaganda and for sermons inciting the people to attack the security forces.

“The meeting was of the view that the government had no other option but to root out terrorism and militancy from the region,” Dawn said.

“The absence of options makes the choice abundantly clear,” Zardari said.

Lauding the role of the armed forces in the region, Zardari said: “Many of them have laid down their lives and many others have been injured in the line of duty. They are our heroes.”

Dawn added: “The meeting also praised the courage of local people for standing up to the militants and refusing to abandon their homes and land.”

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