Pakistan sends ‘tough’ message to militants

June 28th, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, June 28 (IANS) Pakistan’s political and military leadership has warned Islamic militants in the country’s restive northwest that the security challenge they posed would be met with a “firm hand”. President Pervez Musharraf, during a meeting with army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Friday, called for combating terrorism and extremism with “full force and all available resources”, Dawn newspaper reported Saturday.

Separately, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has directed the civilian administration in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to arrest the “misguided miscreants” responsible for the destruction of girls’ schools and other acts of vandalism.

The NWFP is regarded as a “radical state” in Pakistan due to the rise of Taliban- supported militant groups in the province. The region has been plagued by sectarianism, with the Pakistan Army launching frequent offensives against the insurgents.

Post 9/11, the NWFP has became a frontline region in Washington’s global war against terror.

According to Musharraf’s spokesman, Kayani briefed the president on the security situation along the Afghanistan border and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The president stressed the need for adopting a multi-pronged approach to wean people away from extremism. He told the army chief to take on the terrorists with full force and with all available resources, the newspaper said.

The meeting was held in the backdrop of recent incidents of violence in Swat and other areas of the NWFP. It was the first meeting between the president and the army chief after attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas by NATO forces from Afghanistan.

Gilani condemned the destruction of several girls’ schools by “misguided elements in the name of Islam” and vowed to rebuild them to allow education of women to flourish.

“I pledge to the people of Pakistan, especially our women, that my government will redouble its efforts to banish illiteracy among women and empower them through education,” he said.

Gilani said he was determined not to allow the “return of our moderate and tolerant society back into the pre-Islamic days”.

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