Islamabad, June 13: Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari today said his country was fighting for its “survival” and promised that the ongoing offensive against the Taliban would continue “until the end”.
“We are fighting a war for our sovereignty,” Zardari said in a late-night television address to the nation. “We will continue this war until the end, and we will win it at any cost.”
“We are waging war against those suspected extremists who want to impose their agenda on us through use of force”, the president asserted, adding “the so-called Taliban are actually against the dissemination of knowledge and pursuit of education as they have torn down many schools and colleges,” local television reported.
Zardari’s pledge came after suicide bombings at two mosques killed at least six people, including a prominent Muslim cleric, and injured more than 100 others.
The cleric, Sarfraz Ahmad Naeemi, was in his office, adjacent to a mosque in the eastern city of Lahore, when a teenage suicide bomber entered the complex and blew himself up.
Separately, a huge explosion caused by a vehicular suicide bombing targeted a mosque in the Nowshera district of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), killing at least eight people, including four soldiers, a provincial minister said, adding that most of the 100 injured were also believed to be troopers.
The bombings confirmed fears that Taliban militants would avenge the army assault that has killed more than 1,400 Taliban fighters in NWFP’s Swat district and its adjoining tribal region.
Officials in Islamabad said the government had feared some retaliation from Taliban when it started Swat operation but the reaction has been much more intense than expected.
Zardari also said the Taliban were the same people who assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and religious scholar Sarfaraz Naeem, besides killing scores of innocent people.
“They commit all these crime in the name of Islam and tarnishing the name of our religion,” he said, adding that “the whole nation is united against Taliban” and this war has the full support of the parliament as well as the political parties.
He also announced the establishment of a military cantonment in Swat and stressed that “we will not leave the people of Swat alone in this difficult hour”. (IANS)