ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed reports that security forces have started operations to arrest the chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat Chapter, Maulana Fazlullah, adding that he has been surrounded by the forces.
Talking to media persons after his meeting with the FATA delegation on Sunday, Rehman Malik said that he wanted to tell Fazlullah that security forces were about to arrest him. He added that the arrested Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan and others had disclosed valuable information and on the basis of their disclosure, the security forces were raiding the hideouts of the militants.
He said that the government would register a case against Fazlullah under the terrorist act.
Malik said that after the operation against Fazlullah, another extremist leader Mangal Bagh would be the next target of the security agencies and the forces would handle him in the same way as they had handled others in Swat. He also requested the Khasadars to resume their duties.
The Interior Minister informed that security forces had arrested seven nationals of Maldives from FATA who were involved in terrorist activities. He added that the investigations were underway from the arrested people. However, according to initial investigation reports, they had links with al Qaeda.
He said that NWFP remained undeveloped due to the Taliban factor but now the President and Prime Minister had announced special funds for the development of NWFP and other areas.
Malik applauded the efforts of the security forces for a successful operation in Malakand division and said that the forces not only cleared a huge area of militants but also facilitated settlement of the IDPs in their homes.
To a query, Malik said that the government had accepted the demands of Baloch leaders and the details of the agreement or demands would soon come to the surface. He said that the extremists were trying to destabilise Balochistan but the government would handle these elements strictly. He added that outside elements were also exploiting the situation in Balochistan but the government believed in providing security to the people of the province.
Reuters adds - Rehman Malik Interior Minister further said that the backbone of the Taliban insurgency had been broken. He said Fazlullahs days on the run would soon be over. Fazlullah has been surrounded. He cant run away, Malik told reporters. Fazlullah is now irrelevant, hes a vegetable. I think hell be captured.
To a question, Malik said intermittent attacks could be expected but the militants were on the run. Asked when Fazlullah would be captured, Malik said the security forces would determine that.
Meanwhile, DG ISPR Maj Gen Athar Abbas said efforts were being made to capture Fazlullah but he dismissed media reports of his imminent capture as speculation.
Efforts are there but stories in the media are all speculative, Abbas said.
Malik said the spokesman, Muslim Khan, was providing his interrogators with much information. Muslim Khan is singing and telling everything about his friends, Malik said.