Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has ruled out launching an army operation in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, rubbishing Interior Minister Rehman Malik's remarks about an anti-militancy campaign for the region like the one conducted in northwestern Swat valley.
"There is no such plan to launch a Swat or Malakand-like operation. That is wrong," Gilani said, referring to the operation launched by the army against the Taliban in the northwest last year.
The government believes in politics of cooperation and assimilation and not tactics like military operations, he said.
"It is for the provincial government in Balochistan to take decisions about their province," he said.
All steps related to Balochistan will be taken in consonance with the provincial government, he told a group of senior Pakistani journalists and editors during an interaction last night.
Malik too has done a flip-flop on the issue of launching operations against militants in Balochistan.
After initially saying that a campaign on the lines of the one in Swat will be launched in the province, he later said targeted actions will be undertaken on the basis of real-time intelligence.
During his interaction with the journalists, Gilani described Malik's comments about a military operation in Balochistan as "absurd."
"Probably, Malik sahab had gotten carried away at the moment," he said in a lighter vein.
He made it clear that Malik had "categorically denied promising any army action in Balochistan."
Balochistan has witnessed an upsurge in sectarian and ethnic tensions and violence, including bomb blasts and suicide attacks, in the past few weeks.
Nearly 70 people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a rally organised by Shia students in the provincial capital Quetta recently.
Gilani said the federal government was "very sensitive" about Balochistan and the approval of a special development package for the province reflected the government's positive approach.
"We have also invited (Baloch) nationalist leaders for talks," he said.