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Pakistan orders military to eliminate 'terrorists'

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Pakistan ordered its military on Thursday to eliminate "terrorists" as air and ground troops pounded extremists branded by Washington a threat to the nuclear-armed country's very existence.

Attack helicopters and war planes bombarded suspected Taliban hideouts in the Swat Valley during the deadliest fighting to grip the northwest district since the government brokered a February peace agreement with hardliners.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani delivered a televised address urging the nation to unite against extremists, whom he said were threatening the country's sovereignty and who had violated the peace deal with attacks.

And Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari vowed that military operations would last until "normalcy" had returned to the troubled Swat Valley.

The deeply controversial agreement between the government and a pro-Taliban cleric to put three million people in a wide region of northwest Pakistan under sharia law had been meant to end a nearly two-year violent Taliban uprising.

"In order to restore honor and dignity of our homeland, and to protect people, the armed forces have been called to eliminate the militants and terrorists," said Gilani, dressed symbolically in traditional Pakistani dress.

"The time has come when the entire nation should side with the government and the armed forces against those who want to make the entire country hostage and darken our future at gunpoint," the premier added.

Thousands of civilians streamed out of the Taliban stronghold and former tourist resort of Swat on foot or crammed into cars in the face of the fighting, as the Red Cross warned that the humanitarian crisis was escalating.

Pakistan is under heavy U.S. pressure to crush militants, whom Washington have called the biggest terror threat to the West. U.S. President Barack Obama has put the nuclear-armed Muslim country at the heart of the fight against al-Qaida.

"The operation is going to carry on until life in Swat comes back to normalcy," Zardari told reporters at the U.S. Capitol after meeting key senators.

"It's a regional problem, it's a worldwide problem," Zardari said. "I think the world is coming to that realization," he added.

Following talks with Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Senator John Kerry said the U.S. Congress would urgently complete an aid bill to stabilize Pakistan.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking in Kabul, praised Pakistan's action against the Taliban.

And despite mounting concern among U.S. lawmakers that the country is increasingly unstable, he expressed confidence that its nuclear arsenal was secure.

The military said nine soldiers had died in the past 24 hours in Swat, including seven killed when militants ambushed troop reinforcements at the entry to Mingora, the main town in the northwest district.

It was one of the deadliest days for the military since government forces resumed offensives against the Taliban as the rebels advanced further south toward the capital Islamabad, violating the terms of the February peace deal.

Vowing victory, army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani said the army would deploy "requisite resources to ensure a decisive ascendancy over the militants" as the peace deal unraveled.

The government in North West Frontier Province said more than 150,000 displaced people were living in temporary conditions including camps as they fled the fighting, although it did not say when or how long ago they had fled.

"A mortar shell hit the outer wall of my house last night," said Nasir Jamal, a medical shop owner.

"Luckily, we survived. I feel God has given me an opportunity I can't miss. I'm leaving. Swat is not worth living in," he added.

"Civilians are suffering at the hands of both the army and the Taliban. The Taliban are killing residents who don't side with them," he said.

The military said someone described as a key Taliban commander leading attacks was killed in the notorious Swat militant bastion of Matta on Thursday.

A son of the pro-Taliban cleric who signed the February agreement was also killed in Lower Dir, a district adjacent to Swat, on Thursday.

The military said 10 militants, including Sufi Mohammad's son, were killed during an exchange of fire with paramilitary forces.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that a humanitarian crisis is escalating in the northwest, where the government has made preparations for up to half a million displaced from Swat.

© Wire reports

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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Should read "US orders Pakistan orders military to eliminate 'terrorists'

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Yes Den Den if they want to not have the US and NATO do it for them. There are legit concerns of the country falling into Taliban hands. [government forces resumed offensives against the Taliban as the rebels advanced further south toward the capital Islamabad, violating the terms of the February peace deal.] [The Taliban are killing residents who don’t side with them,”]

This sounds like the Taliban are fighting dirty to gain control of another country. We can't let them get hold of another country Khmer Rouge Style.

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Should read "US orders Pakistan orders military to eliminate 'terrorists'" No, it should read "Finally"!

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He could say he is going to eliminate the Easter Bunny... the statement would be just as meaningful. In the not-too distant future, Pakistan will be a fundamentalist Taliban state with nuclear weapons. Instead of believing the impossible, we should get ready for that.

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See how the dutiful fat dogs snarl and bark to impress the Yankee masters. Eliminate the terrorists? The army will need to eliminate itself! Summer hallucinations???

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Every now and then the clunkies in the United States government are right about something. Too bad for Pakistan that it was this.

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The military said someone described as a key Taliban commander leading attacks was killed in the notorious Swat militant bastion of Matta on Thursday.

A son of the pro-Taliban cleric who signed the February agreement was also killed in Lower Dir, a district adjacent to Swat, on Thursday.

These stories (if true) need to be used as propaganda against those the Taliban. Drop leaflets with more news of the dead Taliban fighters and of those murdered by the Taliban.

I hope that our "allies" keep up their offensive and do some real harm to the Taliban(every time I say Pakistan and the word ally in the same sentence I keep looking over my back).

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maheshvitekar at 03:43 PM JST - 8th May See how the dutiful fat dogs snarl and bark to impress the Yankee masters. Eliminate the terrorists? The army will need to eliminate itself! Summer hallucinations???

You seem to forget that Pakistan had an agreement with the Taliban. But the Taliban was not happy with what they were given, so they made a play to take more. Now they are paying for their plots. Pakistan seems to have realized that the Taliban had a bigger goal than just a valley.

Hope that the Pakistan military has the stones to keep on the offensive.

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Joebigs, I beg to differ. There is no such thing as Taliban and Pakistan. It is all Pakistan. Can one entity have an agreement with itself? Religious bigots are now ruling the people who encouraged them. Pak army felt that it was doing God's own work by getting people trained to commit suicide in the name of God. When you play with fire, its inevitable to get burnt in the end. Thats what is happening, the pure form of religion that they so much loved is suddenly too unappetising for them. They are now getting sucked into its hungry stomach and religion will be the end of them.

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