More questions about our friend and ally Pakistan, from ANI:
Peshawar: Al-Qaeda fighters hiding among the unruly tribes of Pakistan along the rugged Afghan border have reportedly been offered “safe passage” by the Governor of the country’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Syed Iftikhar Hussain.
“If the foreign terrorists want to leave Pakistani territory then we are ready to provide safe passage to them,” The News quoted the Governor as saying recently.
“Our amnesty offers still stands and once again we assure that anyone who lays down his arms and surrenders before authorities will not be handed over to any other country,” Governor Hussain added.
According to the report, since the onset of spring, Pakistani authorities had stepped up efforts to remove Al Qaeda fugitives from the country’s semi-autonomous tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, as US and Afghan forces block escape points on the other side.
Since a largely disastrous operation last month against some 500 fighters holed up in the mud-walled fortress homes of rebel tribal elders, Pakistan had re-channelled its efforts into negotiations with the region’s tribes.
Provincial authorities have been urging tribes to form their self-armed militias to pursue and expel foreigners and hand over tribal chiefs who have been harbouring them. Hussain threatened a further armed offensive if the foreigners did not leave and their tribal supporters were not handed over.
According to an official, the governor said that force would only be used if traditional tribal practices of slow negotiations, meetings and consultations failed to get results. The governor has also extended a deadline for their expulsion or surrender to April 20, the paper added.
It further quoted Hussain as saying that if like the Mahsud, Utmanzai and the Ahmedzai other tribes take a unanimous decision not to provide shelter to foreign elements in their respective areas, the issue could be resolved smoothly.
He also dispelled the impression that foreign elements had any concern with the Afghan Jihad because, he added, most of these people were Chechens, Uzbeks and Tajiks who had no role in Afghan Jihad and they took refuge in Afghanistan during Taliban regime. The Governor unequivocally declared that the government was not following any dictation from another country in this regard. “What we are doing is in the best interest of the country and the people of the respective areas,” he said adding that those who were saying that the government action against foreign elements in Fata would benefit the US, were totally wrong and misguided.