Pakistan extends militant surrender deadline
Agence France Presse
Islamabad, May 1:
Pakistan has extended by a week a deadline for hundreds of foreigners hiding in the tribal region along the Afghan border to surrender and get amnesty or face military action, officials said today.
The previous ultimatum expired yesterday without a single foreign militant emerging from hiding to register with the authorities and qualify for an amnesty offered by the government, they said.
“The deadline has been extended by seven days for foreign elements to surrender or face military action,” military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said.
Pakistan set the last deadline on April 24 when it granted amnesty to five local tribesmen accused of sheltering Al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives, following a military offensive in March in the South Waziristan tribal region. Sultan said more time had been allowed for foreign elements to take the amnesty offer.
“There is a political process that is going on and we would like to see this political process comes to a logical end,” he said, referring to efforts being made by tribal elders for a peaceful surrender by up to 400 foreigners believed sheltering in the semi autonomous
The spokesman however warned the government would not let foreign elements staying in the rugged region continue their illegal presence in the territory.
“If there is a requirement of a military action it will be done on the basis of intelligence,” Sultan said.
The tribal belt bordering Afghanistan has been seen as a sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters who cross the border to escape United States-led military operations to quell the threat to Afghanistan’s post Taliban government led by President Hamid Karzai.