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Taliban eying Punjab province of Pakistan: Shahbaz

As Pakistani military intensified operations against the Taliban in Swat and adjoining areas, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the aim of the militants is to "penetrate" into the key province.

world Updated: May 31, 2009 13:49 IST

As Pakistani military intensified operations against the Taliban in Swat and adjoining areas, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the aim of the militants is to "penetrate" into the key province.

"There is no doubt that one of their aims is to penetrate into Punjab as well as to stop opeartion in Swat," Sharif told 'The Sunday Times'.

"We are doing everything we can to stop their activities. Just as it did not come overnight, it will not go overnight," Sharif said.

He added that "finally the whole nation is behind the concept of not allowing the insurgency to cripple our society."

In a major success yesterday against the Taliban, troops had recaptured the main town of the restive Swat valley -- Mingora -- after days of fighting, according to chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas.

The military says more than 1,200 militants and 80 soldiers have died in the onslaught against the Taliban, launched in the districts of lower Dir on April 26, Buner on April 28 and Swat on May 8.

Pointing out that the Taliban won public support in Swat by demanding an Islamic justice system, Sharif said "To think in a society thirsting for justice that people will look away from such a movement is fooling ourselves."

He added that if we all don't work together, then we are doomed and this country will fall apart.