Gilani warns of military ops on safe havens of militants

Islamabad: A day after militants carried out carnage in two mosques in Lahore, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday said his government will launch military operations on all safe havens of such elements.

Vowing not to bow before extremism and terrorism, Gilani said: "Wherever the writ of the government is challenged, military operations will be conducted."

The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering in Pakistan's restive northwest headquarter town of Saidu Sharif in Swat valley, which was cleared of Taliban militants following a campaign launched by the army last year.

"The writ of the government will be established at all costs. If the government fails to protect the lives of the people and their property, then it has failed in its obligations and we will not let it happen," he said.

Though Pakistan's campaign against extremism and terrorism was its own war, the entire world had benefited from the move, Gilani contended.

The peace and progress of the world is linked to the success of campaigns like the one conducted by the Pakistan Army in Swat, he said.

He said the decision to conduct a military operation in Swat and other parts of the Malakand division was made as a "last choice" because the government wanted to ensure that peace is not disturbed and the lives and property of the people are protected at all costs.

Gilani condemned yesterday's terrorist attacks on two mosques of the minority Ahmedi sect in Lahore that claimed over 80 lives.

He said his government will do everything within its means to protect the lives of all people, irrespective of whether they belonged to minority communities.

Incidents such as the one in Lahore have brought a bad name to Pakistan, he added.

"Certain elements" did not want to see the people in places like Swat living peacefully and had resorted to terrorism in the name of Sharia or Islamic law, he said.

Referring to the decision to allow the setting up of Islamic courts in Malakand division last year, he said the government accepted the demands of these elements but they "changed tactics and resorted to violence and extremist acts".

The terrorists wanted to hold the government hostage and gave authorities in Swat "a notice of five days" but such acts could not be tolerated, Gilani said.

The government could not stand by and watch as girls' schools were destroyed, people were butchered and the administration was held hostage, he said.