Pak troops fan out to border to avert jihad
Islamabad, July 14:
Thousands of troops were deployed to Pakistan’s northwestern frontier to try to dissuade outlawed Islamic militants from launching a holy war against the government for its bloody attack on a radical mosque, military officials said today.
The region along Afghanistan’s border has seen increased activity by both local militants, the Taliban, and, according to a recent US assessment, the Al Qaeda terror network.
“With help from local tribal elders, we are trying to ensure that militants lay down their arms, and stop issuing calls for jihad against the government,” said a senior military official. He said there were no immediate plans for combat operations against Maulana Fazlullah,
a radical cleric who has pressed for the imposition of Taliban-style rule in Pakistan.
He said there were no immediate plans for combat operations against Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric who has pressed for the imposition of Taliban-style
rule in Pakistan, much like the leaders of the Red Mosque. Pakistan troops overran the Islamabad mosque on Wednesday following an eight-day siege with a hard-line cleric and his militant supporters, that left over 100 dead.
Fazlullah told supporters to prepare for jihad, or holy war, against President Gen Pervez Musharaff for the assault, the official said.
After nearly two weeks of tension and violence, life was returning to normal in Islamabad with authorities lifting a curfew imposed on areas near the Red Mosque.
Anti-Musharraf protests erupted across Pakistan yesterday. One of the largest was in the eastern city of Lahore, where some 10,000 offered prayers for Abdul Rashid Ghazi, a radical cleric killed at the mosque.
In the northwest, an army brigade was heading up the Swat Valley, 150 km northeast of Peshawar, where a suicide car bomber killed three policeman at a checkpoint on Thursday.
Asif Iqbal Daudzai, spokesman for the provincial government, said Fazlullah had broken an agreement to stop using FM radio broadcasts for anti-government agitation. If he does so again, security forces “will react,” Daudzai said.
Troops were also sent to Dera Ismail Khan, a town near the tribally governed Waziristan border region, a Taliban stronghold where Washington says Al Qaeda is regrouping.
No new troops were sent to North Waziristan, but a spokesman for militants demanded that
all existing checkpoints be removed from the region by tomorrow.
Abdullah Farhad, who claims to speak for pro-Taliban militants, said the checkpoints violated
a 2005 peace accord between the government and tribal elders.