Pakistan to step up measures against militancy
Pakistan on Monday decided to step up its campaign against a rising wave of terrorism, with the government seeking support from opposition parties and leading clerics to control extremism and militancy, dpa reported
The decision to enact new measures to tackle Islamic militancy was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.
"The terrorism, sectarianism and ethnic divide need to be tackled by important pillars of the state, including public representatives from the political parties, religious leaders and civil society," state-run newswire APP quoted Gilani as saying at the meeting.
The information minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira, told media afterwards that "we have decided to activate the National Counter Terrorism Agency, bring in new anti-terror laws and set up a mechanism between federal and provincial intelligence agencies to counter terrorism."
Kaira said the meeting had also decided to convene a national conference "as early as possible to formulate national policy against terrorism" with the support of all national leaders.
The Pakistani government has come under pressure to speed up counter militancy measures after last week's bombing of a Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore which killed 42 people and injured 174.
After the attack, main opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif demanded that the government call a grand conference and hold talks with militants.
But Kaira said the government would hold talks only with those militants who would surrender and accept the government's authority.
The new measures coincided with the decision of the provincial government of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital, to launch a crack down on 17 banned extremists' organizations, English-language daily The News International reported Monday.
Those listed include the Lashkar-e-Toiba group, blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian financial hub of Mumbai, in which over 160 people were killed.
Violence continued on Monday as at least one soldier and four suicide bombers were killed in a botched effort to target a military camp in north-western part of the country.
The incident occurred in the Teemergraha area of Dir district when militants blew up two explosive laden vehicles after soldiers opened fire on them at the check point near the entrance of the camp.
A security official said on condition of anonymity that seven soldiers were also injured in the attack.