Pak will take action against banned militant groups: Malik

Islamabad: Pakistani authorities will take effective action to eliminate banned militant groups operating in Punjab province though no military operation is planned against them, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday.

Malik made the remarks while interacting with journalists in the federal capital.

He said several banned groups, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sihaba, are active in Punjab and were operating as the Punjabi Taliban.

"Effective action will be taken against the banned outfits on the basis of intelligence reports but there will be no military action in Punjab," he said.

"They are terrorists and they are undertaking terrorist activities in Punjab," he said.

The government has conducted successful operations against the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal belt, including South Waziristan Agency, and terrorist organisations in other parts of the country will also be eliminated, he said.

Malik had said over the weekend that banned groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba had joined hands with the Taliban and Al Qaida to destabilise Pakistan and to spread sectarianism and anarchy.

During an appearance before the Senate's standing committee on the interior ministry, Malik said the Punjabi Taliban had assumed dangerous dimensions in the southern part of Punjab province and were planning to carry out major attacks.

The Punjabi Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were linked to several major terrorist attacks in the recent past, including the suicide car bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, he said.

Intelligence is being shared with the Punjab government by federal authorities and the province has been asked to conduct actions on the basis of this intelligence, Malik said.

Responding to a question from journalists about Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested for a recent botched car bomb attack in New York, Malik said authorities had arrested a number of people belonging to educated families for their links with the accused.

"We have to change our mentality for the elimination of terrorism and extremism," he said.

Malik said some religious leaders were opposed to operations against militants though this matter will be resolved in consultation with senior clerics so that action could be taken against banned groups.