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MPs Resign Over Waziristan Offensive Plan

October 8, 2009 by  


By Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent

“We are the elected representatives of this area, and unfortunately we are not being consulted on such a serious issue,” an angry Munir told IOL

ISLAMABAD — Plans to unleash a full-scale military operation against the Waziristan region, apparently under increasing US pressures, have prompted 19 lawmakers, including three federal ministers elected from the region, to tender their resignations t o Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in protest.

“We have tendered our resignations and told him if he cannot work to entertain our demands, then he better accept them,” Munir Aurukzai, a member of the National Assembly and head of the tribal parliamentary group, told IslamOnline.net on Tuesday, September 29.

“We have told him clearly that we do not consider ourselves as parliamentarians anymore.”

The prime minister has not accepted the resignations, assuring the protesting lawmakers he would do whatever he could in this regard.

Though the government has officially denied setting any deadline for the operation, army sources confirm that the military has finalized its preparations.

This included calling in additional troops in and around South and North Waziristan areas, the strongholds of Taliban.

Security forces have imposed a curfew in various parts of Waziristan and the adjoining Bannu district for an indefinite period, stoking up fears of a full-fledged offensive.

President Asif Zardari has reportedly agreed to launch a full-fledged military operation in Waziristan during his recent visit to the US.

Observers say the decision followed the approval of the Kerry Lugar bill, under which Pakistan will receive 1.5 billion dollars in US aid annually in “recognition of its services in war on terror”.

Backlash

Munir, an ally of Gilani’s ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), blames the authorities for keeping the tribal lawmakers in dark over operation issue.

“We are the elected representatives of this area, and unfortunately we are not being consulted on such a serious issue.”

He believes that if given a chance, tribal leaders and lawmakers would succeed in mediating between the two sides.

“If elected parliamentarians are involved in the process, I am sure they will find a way to avoid military operation,” Munir said.

“Incompetent government officials, like NWFP Governor, are pushing the government towards operation, which will never resolve the issue.”

Saleh Shah, a member of Pakistan’s Upper House, Senate and a tribal leader of South Waziristan, agreed.

“We have offered our services to resolve the issue, but we are not heard. It seems as if the government has surrendered to the US pressure and aid.”

The lawmakers and tribal leaders are warning of a serious backlash.

“This will be a major blunder, which will invoke a serious reaction from the tribesmen,” Shah said.

“I would not use the word revolt (against government), but there will be a serious reaction to the military operation.”

Munir noted that ongoing operations in various tribal areas, including Mohmind and Khyber agencies, have inflicted unbearable hardships on local tribesmen.

“Hundreds of thousands of our people have been displaced,” he said angrily.

“They have lost their properties and lives. And what did the government do for them?  Nothing.”

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