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Zardari, Kayani praise Afzal Khan Lala for taking on Taliban

PESHAWAR: The government formally acknowledged the courage and sacrifices of the 82-year-old Pakhtun nationalist leader and former federal minister Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala when President Asif Ali Zardari made a phone call to him to praise him for standing up to the Taliban and the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met him during his...

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 28, 2009 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 28, 2009 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
Zardari, Kayani praise Afzal Khan Lala for taking on Taliban

PESHAWAR: The government formally acknowledged the courage and sacrifices of the 82-year-old Pakhtun nationalist leader and former federal minister Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala when President Asif Ali Zardari made a phone call to him to praise him for standing up to the Taliban and the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met him during his flying visit to Swat.

Though belated, the government move was expected to raise the morale of those opposed to the Maulana Fazlullah-led militants in Swat. Afzal Khan, who is affiliated to the ruling ANP, has been seeking the government's support to arm the village militias to take on the Taliban but his pleas until now have remained unanswered.

Kayani met Afzal Khan at the Frontier Constabulary camp in Kanju near Mingora. Afzal Khan's family members in his village, Bara Drushkhela, in Matta area, said a military helicopter flew him to Kanju around 11:00 a.m. and brought him back in the afternoon.

They said Afzal Khan, accompanied by his close relative Colonel (Retd.) Ghaffar, met Kayabi and discussed the situation in Swat. They expressed ignorance about the decisions made at the meeting.

Afzal Khan's family members disclosed that this was Zardari's second phone call to him. They said Zardari called him a week ago and paid tributes to him for resisting the militants despite the obvious risks to his life.

Some troops have been deployed at Afzal Khan's village to protect him from the Taliban, who have attacked his house a number of times. Male members of Afzal Khan's extended family and supporters also guard the village and his home.

Afzal Khan and his nephew Abdul Jabbar Khan, who is tehsil Nazim for Matta, were earlier injured when his vehicle was ambushed by Taliban fighters. His two bodyguards were killed in that attack. The militants have also killed two of his nephews and torched his market.

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