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Few gains as Pak fights ultras

Pakistanis brace themselves for a resumption of suicide attacks as security forces embark on a decisive operation against the Taliban elements operating within Pakistan. A report by Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2008 01:29 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Pakistanis braced themselves for a resumption of suicide attacks as security forces embarked on a decisive operation against the Taliban elements operating within Pakistan, and other religious militias in the Khyber Agency area which borders Peshawar. Many have questioned the motives of the operation, with some saying that it was being done at the behest of the US.

Started on Saturday the operation has claimed little success so far as no major leader of any religious militia had been arrested yet. Houses and schools believed to belong to the Lashkar-e-Islami, a religious outfit, were demolished on Sunday by officials of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary Force. A military spokesman had earlier clarified that the army would not be directly involved in the operation.

Contrary to previous expectations, the clean-up operation was restricted to the Khyber Agency and did not move into Peshawar itself. “The operation will be widened in the coming days," said an officer of the Frontier Constabulary, but did not give details.

Simultaneously militant leader Baitullah Mehsud warned the Pakistan government of attacks in the Punjab and Sindh province in retaliation to the para-military operation. In a statement, Mehsud said the earlier peace agreement with the government was now no more valid as the government had started a military operation in his area. He accused the government of going back on its words.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the media in Islamabad that he wholly backed the clean up operation. Gilani said that the militants had established themselves in different parts of the country and were challenging the writ of the government. Analysts noted that Gilani was scheduled to visit the US in July.

Many Pakistanis however felt the government should have given the peace agreement more time.