Wed, March 03, 2010
World > Asia-Pacific

Pakistan's Bajaur tribe demands help as army declares victory over Taliban

2010-03-03 08:24:31 GMT2010-03-03 16:24:31 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Members of Pakistani security forces patrol the road in the Bajaur tribal region March 2, 2010. Pakistan's army said on Tuesday that it had gained victory over Taliban forces in that tribal region. (Xinhua/Yan Zhonghua)

Members of Pakistani security forces stand guard in the Bajaur tribal region March 2, 2010. Pakistan's army said on Tuesday that it had gained victory over Taliban forces in that tribal region. (Xinhua/Yan Zhonghua)

A member of Pakistani security forces stands guard in the Bajaur tribal region March 2, 2010. Pakistan's army said on Tuesday that it had gained victory over Taliban forces in that tribal region. (Xinhua/Yan Zhonghua)

Members of Pakistani security forces patrol the road in the Bajaur tribal region March 2, 2010. Pakistan's army said on Tuesday that it had gained victory over Taliban forces in that tribal region. (Xinhua/Yan Zhonghua)

Members of Pakistani security forces stand guard in the Bajaur tribal region March 2, 2010. Pakistan's army said on Tuesday that it had gained victory over Taliban forces in that tribal region. (Xinhua/Yan Zhonghua)

KHAR, Pakistan, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The tribe elders in northwest Pakistan's Bajaur agency said they need help from the government to rehabilitate the militancy-hit tribal region where the Pakistan army announced a full control after wiping out Taliban militants.

"We hope the government will help rebuild the roads, the bridges and residences which have been damaged by Taliban during the past two years," Shala Nijang Aji, a regional tribe leader Tuesday told a bunch of local and foreign reporters during their trip to Bajaur organized by the army.

"We also need some girl schools," said the 60-year-old in the Damadola village, about 7 km from the Afghanistan border. The village, with snow-capped mountains in the distance, has been largely destroyed in the fighting.

Outside a militants cave complex in Damadola, Pakistan's army spokesman Athar Abbas and paramilitary Frontier Corps commander Tariq Khan declared a victory over Taliban militants, saying the security forces have wrapped up military operations in Bajaur, known as a former Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold.

Abbas described Damadola as strategically important, linked to Afghanistan, Pakistan's northern district of Chitral and to northwestern Swat valley, which has also been troubled by Taliban insurgency.

"Al-Qaeda was there. They had occupied the ridges. There were 156 caves designed as defensive complex," Khan told reporters.

"We have concluded operations up to the Afghan border. We think the Bajaur operations have now more or less ended as dedicated military operations," he said.

In Damadola and in nearby Khar, the administrative headquarters of Bajaur, the army displayed a large number of rockets, mines, rifles and other weapons that troops seized in the latest offensive launched in this January.

"The first Pakistan army uniformed soldiers have arrived in Damadola after a recent operation and the Pakistan flag has been raised for the first time since 1947," said Khan.

In Khar, hundreds of members of a pro-government militia lashkar, held a show of force in support of the Pakistani military in a battle-scarred market.

Crowds of local people stood on the roof of a half damaged building, looking on and chanting "Long Live Pakistan" as militiamen banged drums and danced with their assault rifles held aloft.

A villager from Bas Khalojo told Xinhua that the village with a population of about 1,000 has more than 500 in the lashkar.

"In the fighting with Taliban, about 20 lashkar have martyred," said Shah Wali Khan, who also joined in the jubilant dancing.

In 2008, the army mounted the first full-fledged offensive in Bajaur and the Pakistani government had declared a victory in 2009, but clashes have erupted again in recent months.

The army said the latest offensive killed 75 militants, arrested 54 and forced hundreds to surrender. Meanwhile, it said, more than 100 troops have been killed in the Bajaur operation coded as Sher Dil-13.

An official from the Bajaur administration in Khar said his father was also killed in the offensive in 2009. "I am proud of him," Jamal Khan told Xinhua.

The success has been gained with the support of local people, said Abbas when meeting a group of tribal chiefs.

The army spokesman said the international community can help the army assist the local people with food and services in a bid to root out the Taliban.

Khan also said that military success alone would not extinguish militancy in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt, which has suffered from a lack of development and a want of effective governance for decades.

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