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Say goodbye to terror: Pak to militants

world Updated: Aug 15, 2009 02:56 IST

Reeling under terror onslaught, the Pakistan government appealed to militants to surrender their arms and "say goodbye to terrorism" on the occasion of the country's 63rd Independence Day on Friday.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the cases of those who surrendered would be examined on an individual basis, with authorities deciding between "leniency" and prosecution.

"On August 14, my message for these terrorists is: let's start a new day, surrender your arms, come to the political or law enforcement authorities and say goodbye to terrorism," Malik told journalists after attending a ceremony at the Police Martyrs' Monument in Islamabad.

Referring to the reported killing of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in South Waziristan Agency earlier this month, he said the government is close to collecting material evidence of his death.

"The evidence may be (video) footage or DNA test. Most of the work on collecting such evidence has been completed and we will inform the nation about this soon," he said.

Confusion has surrounded the fate of Mehsud, with the government and the Taliban making claims and counter-claims about his death. However, Malik said circumstantial evidence, ground realities and certain reports from South Waziristan indicate that Mehsud is dead.

"If terrorists are claiming that Baitullah is alive, then (they should) present his voice or show his video if he is sick," Malik said in response to a question on the Taliban's claims that Mehsud is still alive.

He pointed out that Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq too had acknowledged that Mehsud had been killed. Members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan who had issued threats to the state are now fighting each other over the wealth accumulated by the militants, he said.

Malik also said that Pakistan's parliament and provincial assemblies had condemned the US drone attacks and Islamabad had requested Washington to provide drone technology to Pakistan.

"We are quite capable of handling such technology. We have our experts and we have the capability," he said.

Replying to another question, he said Pakistan and Afghanistan should work jointly against terrorism. The issue of border management is being discussed with Afghan officials and this will help prevent terrorism, he added.