PESHAWAR: The political administration has asked elders of the Frontier Region Peshawar to help the government to recover by Monday the 23 personnel of Levies kidnapped by the Taliban on Thursday. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Darra Adamkhel faction claimed responsibility for killing the two militiamen and kidnapping 23 others. Official sources said the militants had overrun and destroyed three checkposts at Koi Hassan Khal and Jina Kor areas and killed and kidnapped the militia personnel. Assistant Political Agent Naveed Akbar Khan told this reporter that the matter was discussed with a jirga of 18 elders. “We asked Malaks that being elders of the semi-tribal region they should fulfil their responsibilities and help the government recover the kidnapped militiamen,” he said, adding that it was the duty of the people to find out where the militiamen were being kept. Dawn, The Nation, The News.
HANGU: The police recovered five kidnapped persons from Kajor Talab on Friday and arrested the three accused, a senior police official said. Talking to reporters on Friday, District Police Officer Dr Mian Saeed Ahmed said that the five persons including a constable had been kidnapped from Kata Kanri area on December 1. He said the kidnappers had been demanding Rs5.5million ransom. The kidnappers had camped in Kajor Talab in Navay Dhand, police sources said. The News.
PESHAWAR: Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud said in a video released on Friday that his organisation could be open to talks with the government, but rejected the idea that his men should give up their guns before such negotiations. Mehsud, who has a $5 million US government bounty on his head, said the militant group would consider negotiations with the government but only if it abandoned ties with Washington. The tape emerged after a spate of high-profile attacks claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in recent weeks, including an assault on Peshawar airport and the assassination of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s senior minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour. “If Pakistan is serious about negotiations it will have to give up US slavery. We will then be ready for negotiations,” Mehsud said in the video. “It is quite ridiculous to ask us to give up arms before entering into negotiations. “But if Pakistan decides to open talks while remaining US slaves the talks will not succeed because a slave can never take independent decisions.” Dawn, The News, Daily Times.
MIRAMSHAH: Seven people were killed and three others injured when missiles fired by drones hit a house at Gurbaz town in North Waziristan on Friday, local officials said. They said six drones fired two missiles each into the house in Shawal area, 65km to the west of Miramshah near the border with Afghanistan. The dead and the injured are believed to be local militants. Officials said the death toll could increase. Parts of the region have witnessed snowfall which has severely affected the communication network in the area. It was the fifth drone strike in the area this month. Dawn.
KHAR: With the assistance of tribal elders, the local administration destroyed poppy crop on an area of 40 kanals in the remote Barang tehsil of Bajaur Agency on Friday, officials said. A team of the Levies and tribal elders of Barang tribe launched joint operation against poppy crop in the Asil Targoo area. The officials said that more poppy crop in the area would be destroyed soon. Talking to reporters, Assistant Political Agent Sohail Ahmed said the administration was committed to clearing the area of poppies. The News.
A NUMBER of private news TV channels quoted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain as saying in reaction to the video that the government had not asked the Taliban to surrender their arms. Instead, he said, it wanted the Taliban to renounce violence before any talks could be held with them. “The Taliban should forget whatever has happened to them and we are ready to forget whatever has happened to us,” said Mr Hussain, whose son was killed in a bomb blast blamed on the militants. Dawn, The Nation.
WASHINGTON: So far this year, the United States has launched 46 strikes in Pakistan and 22 per cent of those at targets in the valley of Shawal, the US media reported on Friday. Also on Friday, a Washington think-tank, New America Foundation, reported that US drone strikes decreased in Pakistan but intensified in Yemen where 40 strikes were launched this year. In 2011, the US launched 72 strikes in Pakistan and only 10 in Yemen. In 2010, the United States launched a record 122 strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These strikes, with Reaper or Predator drones, killed between 189 and 308 militants and at least seven civilians, the think-tank said. The Long War Journal, a US news outlet which focuses on the war against terrorists, reported that 10 of 46 strikes launched in 2012 targeted Al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley. Dawn, Daily Times.
LANDI KOTAL: In a tit-for-tat response, Afghan police subjected two Pakistani truck drivers to severe torture near Kabul after a group of Afghan passengers were meted a similar treatment by some unidentified people near Torkham border on Pakistani side on Thursday. Pakistani security guards on Friday closed the border crossing for second time in a week to register their protest against what they called the illegitimate treatment of Afghan police with Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan. The closure of border also effectively stopped all supplies to Afghanistan and entry of thousands of Afghan nationals into Pakistan. Pakistan Army official Col Mushtaq told reporters at Torkham that the border was closed after two truck drivers named Yar Khan and Lal Gul reported to them about maltreatment meted out to them by the Afghan police at Pul-i-Charkhi check post near the capital Kabul. Dawn.
NAWAF KHAN, SHARAFAT ALI CHAUDHARY