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Pakistan - anti-Taliban offensive

Islamic parties criticise offensive after troops capture Buner

Article published on the 2009-04-29 Latest update 2009-04-29 16:01 TU

Soldiers in Lower Dir district on 28 April 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Soldiers in Lower Dir district on 28 April 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistani forces took control of Dagar town, in Buner district, on Wednesday during an offensive against Taliban fighters in the area.

According to a statement by officials from the army, forces launched major ground and air offensive against Taliban militants and secured Dagar town.

They used fighter jets and both army and paramilitary Frontier Corps troops were involved in the operation.

Dagar has a population of around 25,000 people and is the administrative centre of Buner district which lies within the North-West Frontier Province.

The area was taken by around 500 Taliban militants earlier this month, and there were reports of strict new rules being enforced, including a ban on cutting beards. The Taliban have said they would like the whole of Pakistan to be governed by sharia law.

The mainstream Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, has condemned the offensive.

"Innocent people are targeted and there are hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes and they have got nowhere to go," party leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad told RFI. "This will not achieve any positive goal."

Reaction: Qazi Hussain Ahmad, leader of Jamaat-i-islami

29/04/2009 by Salil Sarkar

Ahmad claims that Taliban fighters can avoid the military's attacks.

"The militants, if there are any, they will leave the area and they cannot be targeted by the bombardment and the use of the airforce and the heavy artillery."

Ahmad says that there should be negotiations and claims that there are other local leaders to talk to, apart from the Taliban.

"There are other representatives in the area, there are elders of the tribes and there are decent people," he says.

The threatening leaflets, signed by suicide candidates <em>fidayeen</em> of Swat’s Tehreek-e-Taliban(Picture: Reporters Without Borders)

The threatening leaflets, signed by suicide candidates fidayeen of Swat’s Tehreek-e-Taliban
(Picture: Reporters Without Borders)

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders have said they are worred about threats been made against journalists for their "anti-Taliban" coverage.

Leaflets written in the official Pakistani language, Urdu, posted outside the offices of various media organisations in the Swat valley, warn of "terrible consequences" for those who do not stop reporting negatively about the Taliban.

"We will take you before Islamic courts and you will be held responsible for this conspiracy," Reporters Without Borders quoted the leaflet as saying.

Elsewhere, another military operation in nearby Lower Dir which began at the weekend was also successful, according to army sources.

Around 75 militants and ten members of security forces were killed in the operation, which some humanitarian organisations have said has increased the numbers of people displaced by the fighting.