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    Call for action against Punjabi Taliban

    PESHAWAR (PAN): Nationalist politicians, elders and leaders of different other organisations in Pakistan have called on its government and the United States to take action against rapidly growing Taliban activities in the Punjab province.

    The call was made at a meeting organised by the Aman Tehrik (peace movement) organisation at a club for journalists in the northwestern city of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

    The meeting was attended by around 40 participants from different political parties and other groups, besides elders, opinion leaders and common people.

    The participants unanimously said that all big rebel centres and their training grounds were present in Punjab, not in the Pakhtun-dominated Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and its adjacent tribal areas.

    They asked the government to urgent measures to deal with the increasing insurgent activities in the province. The US was urged to help the Pakistani government deal with the situation.

    They demanded of the Pakistan Army and NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan to take action against Punjabi Taliban instead of going after them in the tribal areas.

    Addressing the gathering, provincial president of the nationalist Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Mukhtiar Khan Yousufzai said the existing insecurity was the result of wrong policies of the successive governments in Pakistan.

    He said all the hardcore Taliban and other radical groups were the creation of Pakistan both in that country and the neighbouring Afghanistan. He said the terrorist attacks in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or Afghanistan were conducted by the authorities in Pakistan.

    He said the roots of all those groups were existed in Punjab and the Punjabi establishment was trying to enslave Afghanistan and occupy the Indian part of Kashmir.

    He said the Punjabi Taliban had support in the Pakistani establishment. He said the international community should come forward to address the problem if the Pakistan government and the security forces failed to do so.

    Another participant of the gathering Abdul Rahim Afridi told Pajhwok Afghan News the Pakistani establishment was telling the world that tribal areas were the sanctuaries of Taliban.

    We are being subjected to cruel treatment in the name of the Taliban over the past eight years, but it has been proved now that all the roots and centres of the militants are present in Punjab and not in the tribal areas, he added.

    Mukhtiar Bacha, another nationalist leader, said the Punjab government was supporting a number of radical groups and was allowing them to operate in the province openly.

    He said the government functionaries in Punjab were openly holding meetings with those militants and their leaders instead of taking action against them. He said Pakistan was supporting the Taliban to install the government of its choice in Afghanistan.

    Human rights activist and another participant of the gathering Shahab Khattak said the armed groups had their centres in the southern Punjab, but it was unfortunate that the government, instead of taking action against them, was openly supporting the groups and their leaders.

    About the military operations in the Pakhtun areas, Khattak said the roots were lying in Punjab instead of Pakhtunkhwa or its adjacent tribal areas. We strongly demand the government to conduct operation against Taliban in Punjab just as they did in the tribal areas, he added.

    He said Punjab was trying to enslave Afghanistan since long and the recent strategy was part of the same efforts.

    Dr. Alam Yousufzai, a Swat-based political figure, said the groups existing in Punjab would snowball into a serious trouble if the government failed to ban them from carrying out their activities.

    He said Pakistan had converted the anti-terrorism war in a trade and was earning billions of dollars by killing its own citizens. He also demanded a serious operation against the terrorist groups in Punjab.

    He said there would be no peace in Pakistan until peace and security was restored in Afghanistan.

    The gathering takes place a day after Punjab Governor Salman Tasir said that Taliban were present in Punjab and the by the government was hesitant to initiate action against them.

    A report published by London School of Economics last week said Pakistans intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had close links with the Taliban.

    dk/ma