Sunday, November 29, 2009

Taliban resistance dwindling’

* ISPR chief says Taliban leadership in hiding, majority of group has fled region

ISLAMABAD: The resistance in South Waziristan has dwindled significantly because of the army’s effective strategy, and “sensing defeat”, the majority of the group has either fled from the area or gone into hiding, ISPR Director General Maj Gen Athar Abbas said on Thursday.

Abbas said in an interview that the ability of the Taliban to strike as a cohesive force had been reduced significantly. “A number of Taliban have already been killed,” he said. He said the supply line of the group had been cut off, and it was not possible for them to escape through normal routes. He, however, said Taliban could still use the rugged terrain to escape the region.

Abbas said the Taliban leadership was still in hiding because normal routes had been blocked. Intelligence reports showed that the leadership was hiding in Waziristan areas, he added. He said a total of 42 soldiers had been killed and 123 injured during the ongoing operation in South Waziristan. “The operation is being conducted to ensure a safer and prosperous Pakistan. The Pakistan Army has suffered more than 5,000 casualties in the war on terror … which is more than combined killings of NATO forces in Afghanistan,” he said. Abbas said that posts vacated by NATO forces adjacent to operation areas could provide “sanctuaries” to the fleeing Taliban. “Concerns over the situation have already been conveyed to NATO,” he said.

He also expressed satisfaction over the nation’s support for the army’s offensive in South Waziristan. About the presence of Taliban in Southern Punjab, he said the situation was totally different from Waziristan, as government’s institutions were fully working in Southern Punjab while the Taliban had ousted state departments from Waziristan and were collecting taxes. Replying to a question, Abbas said the ammunition recovered from Waziristan included anti-aircraft guns, mines and anti-tank weapons. He said the weapons had been supplied by various foreign countries. app

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