ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has found concrete evidence of India’s involvement in militancy in South Waziristan and decided to take up the matter with New Delhi.
This was disclosed by Information Minster Qamar Zaman Kaira and military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas at a press briefing on the progress of operation Rah-i-Nijat here on Monday. It was the first time in recent times that Pakistan had pointed fingers at India from a forum having representation of political and military leadership.
Mr Kaira said although it had been decided to raise the issue with India, Pakistan would not deviate from the peace process.
Gen Abbas said a huge quantity of Indian arms and ammunition, literature, medical equipment and medicines had been recovered from Sherawangi area, near Kaniguram. He said the Foreign Office had been informed and the matter would be taken up with the Indian authorities through diplomatic channels.
Sources in the Foreign Office said a dossier containing proofs of India’s involvement in South Waziristan would soon be handed over to officials in New Delhi.
KANIGURAM TAKEN: Gen Abbas said security forces had secured control of Kaniguram, a redoubt of Uzbek fighters.
He said there were fortified positions and bunkers in the area which were being used by militants in possession of modern weaponry. The entire area had been cleared of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Five truckloads of arms and ammunition were recovered from the area on Monday, he added.
The ISPR chief said the Karama village, to the east of Kanigurma, was also under control of security forces now. He said the village used to be a stronghold of Uzbek militants. Some other strategically important points around Kaniguram had also been secured, he said.
In reply to a question about winding up of some checkposts by the Nato forces on Pakistan’s border in Afghanistan, he said: “We have been told that it was a readjustment.”
He said Pakistan had sought information on the ‘readjustment’ because closure of posts in sensitive areas would affect the military operation.
He rejected a perception that prior announcement about the operation in South Waziristan gave time to militants to get ready, saying that security forces kept on making preparations when aerial strikes were being conducted to decimate the militants.
The army spokesman said the operation was progressing as per plans. He said militants had been surprised and defeated on all fronts. It was not clear whether top leadership of the Taliban had escaped to North Waziristan or was still in the area.
He said many militants were withdrawing from the fight and moving closer to the heart of the region. They were bound to be trapped there, he added.
The aim of the operation was not just to eliminate militants but also to dislodge them from their fortifications, sanctuaries and hideouts. 'If they are dislodged, we will be moving very close to victory,' he remarked.
Gen Abbas said troops were extending their 'perimeter of security' on the Jandola-Sararogha axis and closing in on Sararogha. Expansion of positions held on the ridges from different directions towards Sararogha was in progress. Sporadic mortar and small arms fire was being received by security forces from different areas of the town, he added.
He said security forces were consolidating their positions on the ridges along the Razmak-Makeen road, on the Razmak-Makeen axis. The important village of China, just adjacent to Makeen, had been secured and a huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered from huts, caves and compounds.
Security forces had neutralised 20 IEDs in the village, secured Kam Narakai and recovered huge ammunition, Gen Abbas added.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira rejected reports that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan and Balochistan. In reply to a question, he said the Inter-Services Intelligence chief’s visit to Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with the country’s political scene.