Islamabad, Pakistan: October 7, 2008 – IR Summary/Agencies – Pakistan Govt. has decided to expel around 50,000 Afghan refugees from a troubled tribal region amid a major military offensive against al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, they are alleged to have links with armed groups. Pak President Zardari has adopted this new policy to move pace with Washington to help fight terrorism.
The government said it was expelling all Afghan refugees in the Bajaur tribal region. The police has arrested 25 Afghans in Khar in Bajaur, who are reported to under deportation.
“The orders have been issued to the tribal police to push all of them [refugees] out,” Abdul Haseeb, a local government official, said on Monday, adding that their homes would be bulldozed to keep them from returning.
A government offensive in Bajaur that began in early August has claimed some 1,000 lives.
It comes amid increased US pressure on the government of Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, to crackdown on armed groups in the restive border region where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
Washington has long complained Pakistan is unwilling or unable to take strong action against the armed fighters.
Zardari has pledged his co-operation in the US ‘war of terror’, but he must tread carefully given strong domestic opposition to his country’s alliance with Washington.
This balancing act has become increasingly complicated because of increasing US missile attacks against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban hide-outs in Pakistan’s northwest and more recently by Zadari’s comments to The Wall Street Journal suggesting he had consented to the strikes.
“We have an understanding, in the sense that we’re going after an enemy together,” the newspaper quoted him as saying on Saturday. Full