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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pakistan Leaders Present United Front

ISLAMABAD, May 12: The ongoing military action against Taliban rebels in the Malakand division of the North West Frontier Province received a strong backing in the National Assembly on Tuesday while a government minister suggested a preventive police action also in the south of the Punjab province.

Members across party lines on the second day of a special session of the lower house were of the view that the new operation ordered by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on May 7 had become unavoidable to squash a barbaric militancy after it had buried a controversial peace deal with the provincial government.

The unequivocal support to the government and the military from 15 members who spoke during the day’s sitting contrasted with some reservations voiced on the first day of the debate on Monday, when some members complained of not being taken into confidence beforehand and one government ally, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman walked in protest after calling the operation “neither right nor timely”.

Most of the speakers said the rebels now deserved no mercy in view of their challenge, in the garb religion, to everything that the Pakistani state stands for.

While describing the masterminds of this militancy as enemies of both Pakistan and Islam, Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi called for using the present momentum to curb some banned militant groups like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi that he said were active in southern Punjab with different names. He said the rebels’ real designs to destabilise the country became clear after they refused to make peace even after the enforcement of a Sharia Nizam-i-Adl (justice) Regulation they had demanded for Malakand division, leaving no option for the government but to launch a full-scale military operation.

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