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Pakistan to pursue Taliban to the finish: Zardari

Last Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 16:02

London: Pakistan will "pursue and chase" militants to the finish, President Asif Ali Zardari has said claiming killing of Baitullah Mehsud had left the Taliban leadership in disarray.
"Baitullah`s killing has led to significant division among the Taliban ranks in Pakistan" Zardari said in an interview to `The Financial Times`.

The Pakistani President said as a result of continuing pressure mounted by the army on militants, Taliban`s suicide bombing network had been disrupted and there was "considerable decrease" in acts of terror.

But, he said that there would be no let up in operations by Army saying, "We don`t want to become complacent. We are determined to pursue and chase the militants to the finish".

Zardari said that the military operations in Swat were now almost over with the army only conducting mopping up operations in the rural areas.

The President`s statement is significant as Army has claimed to have killed more than 1,800 Taliban militants in almost five month long operations.

However, Zardari was silent on the new major operation to be launched by the Army in north and south Waziristan, believed to be the main haven for Taliban, al Qaeda and other foreign militants operating in Pakistan.

The Pakistan President claimed that the Army and paramilitary forces were getting good ground intelligence from the restive tribal regions of NWFP, with people supporting and helping the forces against the militants.

He said that there was complete political consensus in the country for launching military operations against the Taliban and other militants and security forces were acting under the guidance of political leadership.

Along with military campaign, he said the government was seeking a massive development of the areas to address the root causes of militancy and extremism.

He said a major section of the population uprooted due to the military operations in areas like Swat, Dir, Bajaur and other areas had been successfully repatriated.

"We have drawn up rehabilitation and reconstruction plan for the Malakand division costing nearly USD 2.5 billion and we expect the international community to support this.”

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 16:02

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