As the US pressed Pakistan to do more to stamp out militancy, a top Pakistani military commander criticised Washington for having double standards and for seeking to make Islamabad a scapegoat for its failure to beat insurgency in Afghanistan.
American efforts to talk peace with insurgents in Afghanistan mean Washington can no longer expect Pakistan to attack all the militant factions on its side of the border, some of whom Islamabad is also reaching out to, Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani, the corps commander for Peshawar, told The Associated Press.
“Why do they raise their fingers toward Pakistan? It is shifting the blame on to others,” he said.
Lt Gen Rabbani defended the government’s dealings with North Waziristan-based militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is believed to have signed a nonaggression pact with the government. “At the moment he seems to be trying to keep himself out of trouble.”
He said US and Nato were in contact with insurgents in Afghanistan to try and ‘co-opt them into the peace process’.
“Something has to be done, and it’s in the offing,” said Lt Gen Rabbani, who commands over 150,000 soldiers and paramilitary forces. “North Waziristan is the only region we haven’t cleared. It should be done as early as possible.”
An uneasy calm prevailed in North Waziristan after two days of fighting lefts scores of militants and security personnel dead in the region.
A jirga of tribal elders has intervened to get the fighting stopped. The jirga, headed by Maulvi Gul Rehman and Hafiz Noor Ali Shah, has met the political authorities on Tuesday. They were presented with demands of returning a military vehicle, rifles and bodies of soldiers.
The jirga will now convey the demands to the militants.
So far, the fighting has left 12 security personnel and 22 militants dead. This is other than civilian casualties.
Medics at the agency headquarters hospital in Miramshah told The Express Tribune that they had received over 100 wounded people – 16 of them were discharged after been given first aid.
Militants vow ‘jihad’
Masked militants, meanwhile, handed out copies of pamphlets pledging ‘jihad’ to mark the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, albeit a week late.
“Let us pledge today that we will continue our jihad and sacrifice our lives and property in the way of Allah like Sheikh Osama did,” it said, unsigned and dated May 2, the anniversary of the Al-Qaeda leader’s killing by US troops. (Additional reporting by our correspondent in Miramshah)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.