ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday that the areas affected by the operation would be given tax relief and that the military operations were unavoidable because the terrorists had challenged the writ of the government.
“The government endorsed the Swat Peace Agreement despite pressure,” he told the National Assembly. “The mandate of the provincial government was accepted thus the peace accord was approved.”
He said that those who did not respect the constitution were not patriotic. “The terrorists want Pakistan destabilized. They want the country conquered according to the foreign agenda. The terrorist can’t fight the Pak Army.”
A special fund has been established for the rehabilitation of the displaced people, and Rs 1 billion sanctioned.
700 MILITANTS KILLED
Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik said Monday that 700 militants have been killed in the Malakand division counter-insurgency operation and the forces would continue their work until all extremists are eliminated.
Talking to the media at the Islamabad Airport after his arrival from the US, Malik said that 20 security men were martyred and 29 injured during the fighting.
He said that Dr Aafia Siddiqui was suffering psychiatrically and the Pakistani authorities have requested the US to send her back to Pakistan.
He said that the government has appealed to the international community for help and provide relief to the displaced people of Swat, Buner and Dir.
The Inter-Services Public Relations claimed on Monday that 52 militants were killed during the operation in Swat and two security men were martyred in the last 24 hours. According to it, the area has been cleared for normal traffic to Khuwaza Khel.
The militants attacked the Mingora police station with mortars killing four security men injured, and in retaliation 11 militants were killed.
Seven militants lost their lives at Ayub Bridge and a boys school was destroyed in Bari Kot. AGENCIES ADD:
A suicide car-bomber killed 10 people at a security checkpost in northwest Pakistan on Monday as the army battled Taliban militants in the Swat valley.
The offensive in Swat, 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, is seen as test of the government's resolve to get to grips with an intensifying Taliban insurgency and comes after the United States accused it of “abdicating” to the militants.
The fighting has sparked a civilian exodus from the former tourist valley, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis.
About 200,000 people have left their homes in recent days
and in all about 500,000 are expected to flee. They join 555,000 people displaced earlier from Swat and other areas because of fighting since August.
The bomber killed two paramilitary soldiers and eight civilians when he set off his explosives in a queue of cars at a checkpost on the outskirts of the main northwestern city of Peshawar, said a police spokesman, Fazal Naeem.
“The target was the checkpost but he couldn't manage to reach the soldiers because of the queue,” Naeem said.
There was no claim of responsibility for the blast but militants have unleashed a series of bomb attacks over the past two years, many aimed at ending security force operations against them.
The army launched a full-scale offensive in Swat, about 110 km (65 miles) northeast of Peshawar, on Thursday after the government ordered troops to eliminate militants.
The military said on Sunday up to 200 militants had been killed in Swat and the neighbouring Shangla district in the previous 24 hours. The figure could not be independently confirmed.
Aircraft attacked militant positions in the valley on Monday, while a curfew kept frightened civilians huddled in their homes, residents said by telephone.
The army lifted the curfew for nine hours on Sunday to enable people to flee.
The offensive was launched while President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was in Washington assuring a nervous United States that his government was not about to collapse and was committed to fighting militancy.
Action by nuclear-armed Pakistan against militants in its northwest is vital for U.S. efforts to defeat al Qaeda and stabilise Afghanistan.
Most political parties and many members of the public support the offensive but that could change if the civilians displaced in the country's larget-ever internal migration are seen to be suffering unduly or if many civilians are killed in the fighting.
Opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who has sounded supportive of government action against the militants, visited a camp for the displaced on Monday and said it was everybody's responsibility to help.
“It's a very unfortunate situation,” Sharif told reporters.
“The nation in no way approves the activities of those elements who are responsible for the displacement and migration of these people,” he said. AGENCIES