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July 18, 2008 Friday Rajab 14, 1429

Baitullah’s ‘five-day ultimatum’ to NWFP government

By Anwarullah Khan

KHAR, July 17: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud has asked the NWFP government to either resign within five days or “prepare itself to face the consequences”.

“The NWFP government is not sincere about restoring peace, rather it is responsible for lawlessness in the tribal areas, Hangu and Swat,” TTP spokesman Maulvi Umar quoted Baitullah as saying on Thursday.

The TTP spokesman told Dawn that the Taliban reserved the right to take action against the provincial government if it did not resign in five days. He said the NWFP government was a powerless entity and Taliban would not hold talks with a weak government.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said people had given the government a mandate for five years.

“This is just nonsense and we know from where they are getting dictation,” he said, adding that the statement of Baitullah Mehsud was regrettable.

He said the government would not step down, nor would it follow the dictates of a person or group.

The TTP spokesman said the provincial government had approached the Taliban with an offer to hold talks but it had also launched an operation in Hangu and started killing innocent people.

Meanwhile, the Taliban spokesman in Swat, Haji Muslim Khan, warned that the peace process in the district would collapse if troops were not pulled out.

He told journalists that security forces had arrested 11 Taliban at various checkpoints and demanded their immediate release.

He said the Taliban were not terrorists and they had been waging a struggle for peace.

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