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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan asks Taliban militants to lay down arms

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 27, IRNA - Pakistan asked Taliban to lay down arms or face tough action as the security forces opened a new front against the militants in the country’s northwest.

“We have decided to flush the militants out. Enough is enough,” Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said in Islamabad.

The Army and Malik said that major offensive against Taliban militants was launched in Dir district at the request of the provincial government.

The offensive has raised fears that the hostilities may push a peace deal in the insurgency-hit Swat to collapse. However, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar says the February agreement is intact.

“On the request of Provincial Government and the people of Dir, Frontier Corps today started operation early this morning against suspected militants hideouts in Islamapura and Lal Qila in Lower Dir,” a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

The operation was launched a day after a convoy of security forces came under attack in Lower Dir area and Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the offensive initiated after the attack. He said the operation would not affect the introduction of Islamic judicial system known as ‘Nizam-e-Adl’ regulation.

Malik came hard on Taliban and asked them to lay down arms, the only option they have. “There is no other option left with them,” he added.

The advisor directly blamed Taliban for the Saturday’s toy bomb blast in Dir, which killed 12 children.

“The way they martyred children, the nation will never forgive them,” Malik said. He said Taliban have been preparing children for suicide bombings and now they are targeting the children whose parents refused to give up their children to the militants.

Malik asked Taliban to stop distributing pamphlets, saying that action would also be taken against owners of the printing press, who are publishing Taliban pamphlets.

Asked if the Dir operation will affect the February Swat deal, he did not come up with a direct reply but said the Prime Minister has made it clear that the agreement is linked with peace.

“What would be the worth of the agreement if the Taliban are challenging writ of the government. We will not allow them to challenge writ of the government. They should surrender arms and live like other peaceful citizens,” he said.

The advisor dismissed as a total lie the impression that the Dir operation has been launched on the US pressure. He said the decision to launch the operation was taken jointly by the federal and provincial government.

“We want Taliban should not play in hands of the enemy,” Malik said, adding the Taliban have another agenda as they have refused to surrender arms despite peace deal.

Asked if the government plans to expand operation to other areas including Waziristan tribal region, he said the government is monitoring the situation in the whole region.

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