Peshawar: Pakistan Army has rejected reports of extra-judicial killings and mass arrests in operations in the tribal areas in the country`s troubled northwest, with a top commander saying that troops will stay in the region till the situation improves.
Asserting that the Army was fighting the militants and not the people, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Asif Yaseen Malik said the elements with vested interests were spreading speculation about the extra-judicial killings to defame the force.
His comments come as there have been reports of unclaimed bodies having been found in large areas of Malakand division and Swat valley.
Malik said that government had set up anti-terrorism courts in the area and the trials of terrorists are underway.
The General said the troops would continue operations in the restive tribal areas and claimed that militants had suffered great losses in these operations.
The high-ranking Army commander`s remarks came as Pakistani troops continue to be deployed in South Waziristan and Swat Valley, while paramilitary forces are taking on the Taliban in other restive tribal areas like Khurram Agency and parts of Orakzai.
Though the Pakistani Army has often declared parts of Swat and Bajour Valley as well as Orakzai areas as `Taliban free` after conducting massive operations, the militants are engaging the security forces in renewed battles.
Speaking to reporters while addressing a workshop on `Human Rights Laws and Rules of Engagements Awareness` at the Corps Headquarters here, Malik said the operations conducted by the Pakistan Army are directed against militants and not the people.
The Army has been engaged in international peacekeeping missions and this speaks of its capabilities, he said yesterday.
Pakistani rights activists have accused the Army of carrying out extra-judicial killings after the bullet-riddled bodies of dozens of Taliban fighters were found across Swat earlier this year. The Army has denied the charge.
Referring to allegations of human rights violations by security personnel in conflict zones, Malik said the soldiers, being Muslims, were more aware of human rights and strictly followed these norms to avoid civilian casualties.
Any single incidence of terrorism should not be related to the overall law and order situation in the province, he said.
Asked about the killing of provincial Information Minister Mian Ifikhar Hussain`s son by the Taliban, Malik said Hussain was targeted because of his tough stance against terrorists and his vocal support for the Army and government`s war against terrorism.
Due to the successful operations by the Army, militants have suffered great losses in their native areas and are now targeting civilians out of sheer frustration, he said.
The Army has made landmark achievements in Malakand and South Waziristan while fully observing international laws on human rights, he contended.