Maj Gen, Lt Col martyred in Upper Dir attack
16 September, 2013
PESHAWAR: A general, another officer and a soldier were martyred on Sunday in a roadside bomb near the border with Afghanistan, the army said, rare high-ranking casualties in the war against militants.
Major General Sanaullah Khan, along with a lieutenant colonel and another soldier, embraced shahadat in the Upper Dir district after visiting an outpost near the border, the army said. Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the bombing.
"Major General Sanaullah, general officer commanding Swat Division and Lieutenant Colonel Tauseef embraced shahadat in an IED blast today (Sunday) near Pak-Afghan Border in Upper Dir," a brief statement on the website of Inter-Services Public Relations, the public affairs wing of the military, said. Lance Naik Irfan Sattar was also killed in the deadly attack.
The attack comes after weeks of discussions within Prime Minister Nawaz's government about whether to pursue peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, who are separate from Afghanistan's Taliban, although allied with them. Last week, major political parties held a conference on the issue and agreed that talks should be pursued. But it was not clear when talks might begin, who might take part or if they would be held under any conditions. The killing of Khan and his colleagues would likely make it more difficult for the government to enter negotiations.
The Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group of different factions, have said they would have their own meeting to decide whether to negotiate with the government. Analysts said it might be difficult for them to reach an agreement. The attack comes a day after the national media quoted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak as saying that his government has prepared the withdrawal schedule of the army from Swat and other northern districts where it had stamped out militancy. A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told that the general officer commanding had opted to travel by road as the weather was bad for helicopter to take off.
It was unclear whether the vehicle carrying the senior military commander had jammers. General Khan was visiting posts on the Pak-Afghan border where Pakistani and Afghan Taliban had launched several attacks last year inflicting damages on the army and the civilians. The military statement did not say whether the IED was remote-controlled or a timed device. "We are investigating whether the IED was exclusively planted to target the senior military commander or aimed at targeting any military convoy," the military official said.
Meanwhile, in North Waziristan town of Miranshah, two roadside bomb attacks killed two soldiers and wounded four others, security officials said. Also, Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of tribal police early on Sunday in Bannu District, killing two of them and wounding four others, police said in Bannu.
Peace process at stake after blast: politicians
Politicians believe peace process with the Taliban is at stake after a general, another officer and a soldier were martyred on Sunday in a roadside bomb near the border with Afghanistan.
ANP leader Haji Adeel said that martyrdom of Major General Sanaullah Butt, Lt Col Tauseef and a soldier in Upper Dir is "extremely deplorable" which might disturb the negotiation process.
Talking to Online, he said the PTI-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not able to handle terrorism. During the ANP's regime, he added, the Taliban were forced to leave Swat "but as soon as the PTI came to power they have returned to the city".
He said the ANP-led government had called the army in Swat for one year, adding that this period was about to over and the PTI was doing political point scoring.
Separately, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said he appreciates ongoing efforts aimed at paving the way for dialogue with the Taliban but warned that many elements having links with foreign forces would try to thwart the talks.
In a statement, he said that a new era has started with regard to negotiations between the government and Taliban.
"Both sides have exchanged prisoners while the Taliban have given a positive response by stopping their actions which shows they are serious in the talks," the JUI-F chief added.
He said the government would soon announce a roadmap and mechanism for the dialogue process.
"The situation in Karachi is critical but the operation there should reach its logical end. Apprehensions of the MQM are justified for not making the caretaker political committee, which was approved by the Karachi APC," he said.
The JUI chief said that it is need of the hour to resort to political measures for the resolution of Balochistan problems.