Pak Affairs

Govt decides to use force in FATA if agreement violated

ISLAMABAD: A high level meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani decided Wednesday that in case of non-compliance and violation of the agreement, the Government will reserve the right to use force in the tribal areas. Reviewing progress on the war on terror and the law and order situation in NWFP the meeting also decided that all agreements with the tribes in FATA will be backed by a robust enforcement mechanism.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Owais Ahmed Ghani, Governor NWFP,Mr Amir Haider Khan Hoti, Chief Minister NWFP, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hameedullah Jan Afridi, Minister for Environment, Mr. Najamuddin Khan, Minister for SAFRON, Mr. Mahmud Ali Durrani, Advisor to PM on National Security, Mr. Rehman Malik, Advisor to PM on Interior, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Chief of Army Staff and DS ISI. The meeting unanimously agreed that elimination of terrorism and extremism is the gravest challenge to Pakistan’s national security and to fight this menace a multi-pronged strategy will be followed.

The main thrust of Pakistan’s policy to counter this challenge will be political engagement of the people through their elected representatives, tribal elders and local influential, the leaders agreed. It was also agreed that in addition to the political instrument, large scale development, economic, empowerment and selective use of military force will be the other prongs of the strategy.

It was decided that the broad objective of this strategy will be to bring about peace, reconciliation and normalcy of life in the country and marginalize the hard core terrorist, militants and criminal elements, so that Pakistan’s national interest reigns supreme. The meeting decided to ensure that local tribal customs, traditions and Riwaj are respected by all representatives of the government including the military and law enforcement agencies and ensure that all foreign fighters will be expelled from Pakistan’s territory.

The meeting decided that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used against other countries, especially Afghanistan and under no circumstances will foreign troops be allowed to operate inside Pakistan. It was also decided that while the Provincial governments will be responsible for their jurisdictions, the Governor NWFP will be the Chief Coordinator for all activity in FATA and maintain intimate liaison with the Federal Government, Provincial Government, important political leaders and the local Military commander.

The meeting decided that the Governor In consultation with the Federal and provincial Governments, will remain responsible for planning execution and coordination of a well thought out, comprehensive development plan in FATA. According to the decision expulsion of foreign fighters will be the responsibility of tribes and they will be held accountable for the presence as well as actions of all foreign fighters.

The tribes will also be responsible for stopping cross border movement of militants. However this will require intimate coordination between the political and the military prongs of the effort, an official said. It was decided that tribes will not fight or target the Army, Frontier Crops and other law enforcing agencies in their areas. They will be made to understand that the use of the force by the military will be justified if the tribes act contrary to their obligations.

The government decided that the Chief of Army Staff will be the Principal for application of the military effort. Although Frontier Corps NWFP and Law Enforcement Agencies will be the instruments of the Governor and Chief Minister in their respective jurisdiction for law and order, they will fall under his command for military operations. Participants of the meeting agreed that the Army Chief will have the authority to decide on the quantum, composition and positioning of military effort.

It was also agreed that the principle of use of minimum force and avoidance of collateral damage will be kept in focus; initiate swift operations based on actionable intelligence to eliminate terrorists and to stop hostile movement across the border for operations against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan; decide on the level of liaison , contact and cooperation with ISAF in Afghanistan and keep the Government appropriately informed; and keep the Prime Minister, the Governor NWFP, Defence Minister and Adviser Interior informed about the operations.

According to other news Senior Army officials have briefed the Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani on the emerging situation in NWFP and tribal areas. Army Chief, General Ashfaque Pervaiz Kayani, NWFP Governor and Chief Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Advisor, Chiefs of security agencies and other higher echelons attended this briefing held at the Prime Minister House here. An official on condition of anonymity said that this high profile meeting mulled over the law and order situations prevalent in NWFP and tribal areas, while the prime minister was briefed on the ongoing activities of Taliban and their possible offshoots. The meeting focused on the policy for improving the law and order situation and establishing the writ of the government, while the strategy of Army operation, talks and other options for tackling cross border actions were also deliberated for the resolution of these issues, the official said. -SANA

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Rubab Saleem

Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times

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