ISLAMABAD The Federal Cabinet on Saturday endorsed military action in Swat observing that there was no option left after failure of the peace accord.
Speaking at a press conference after an emergent meeting of the Cabinet, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said it was the battle for survival of Pakistan and was the question of future of the people. He said the militants' refusal to accept judiciary, parliament and democracy was nothing short of rebellion.
He said they were involved in inhuman acts of abductions, killings, loot and destruction while the Government had already made it clear that the peace deal was linked with restoration of peace and would be re-visited if that does not happen.
He said the cabinet observed that the militants carrying out un-Islamic activities in the name of Islam were 'anti-state elements.'
He said the National Assembly has been convened to meet on Monday (May 11) to discuss the situation in Swat. He said it was not possible to take the Cabinet and the Parliament into confidence before launching of the operation as it would have provided an opportunity to go underground.
He however said the national leadership had been taken into confidence and thanked them for extending the much needed support. He said the meeting decided that a group of cabinet ministers will meet political leadership to gather support for the cause which they had decided in the interest of the country.
It was learnt that Makhdoom Amin Fahim will shortly be meeting JUI Chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman.
Gilani said it was not possible to give any time frame for the completion of the operation as it was guerrilla war and not a normal war. He said that the cabinet expressed the resolve that there should be minimum collateral damage and should be over as soon as possible.
Brushing aside the impression that army action had been launched under international pressure at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari was on a visit to the United States, he pointed out that the government had rejected all pressures to go ahead with the peace deal.
About the Nizam-i-Adl regulation, he said the government respected the mandate of the provincial government and the parliament approved it in national interest.
The Prime Minister said the cabinet created a special fund for the victims of terrorism and contributed Rs 200 million from their own pockets, besides a month's salary.
The cabinet directed all the foreign missions of the country to get activated to help generate funds for reconstruction of area and capacity building of law enforcing agencies.
It also directed the provincial government to be vigilant to any reaction in the wake of the army operation and said he had directed the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies to share reports on the issue with provincial governments.
The Cabinet also asked the Chairperson of Benazir Income Support Program to provide full cover to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
It was decided to provide special attention to Balochistan, carry forward the ongoing dialogue and work for removing the province's sense of deprivation.
The cabinet was of the view that all political forces and civil society groups should hold a peace march against terrorists and militants across the country.
The Prime Minister said the government would soon be constituting cabinet committees to carry out day-to day monitoring of IDPs and to ensure transparency in funds management.
The cabinet observed that the terrorists and militants had no religion and were not bothered about any boundaries. 'Therefore we have decided to contact the ulema to present a true perception of Islam,' he said.
He announced that Imam e Kaaba was being invited to visit Pakistan to play his helpful role towards removing misperceptions.
The cabinet also decided to approach the media to realize the gravity of the situation, and seek their help.
About convening of the All Parties Conference, Gilani said he had held consultations with other political leaders and would decide the date soon.
Asked whether the government has given up the path of dialogue, Gilani said the government always pursued the policy of dialogue, development and deterrence. 'We preferred dialogue at first, but when it did not achieve any results we had to look for other option,' he said, adding that development could not be achieved unless peace was restored.
About the Charter of Democracy and possibility of PML-N induction into the federal cabinet, he said he had very good relations with PML-N leadership and appreciated the support extended by them in difficult times on issues of national security. 'We would be in a better position to offer them to join the cabinet when we fulfil the pledge of implementing Charter of Democracy including the abolition of 17th amendment.'
Gilani said the government was fully cognizant of the issues of IDPs. 'This time we made sure that militants were taken by surprise.' he said defending government's policy of not asking the people to leave the area before the launch of the operation.
He said over Rs half a billion have been handed over to provincial governments. He also directed the ministers to visit the camps and to ensure that they are being looked after well.
Gilani also made an impassioned appeal to the nation to support the armed forces as they were doing a job for the country's future. He also asked the locals to ask the 'the black sheep' to leave their area.
He said the government will also strengthen the capabilities of its law enforcement agencies and would build bomb proof police stations .Besides the government will also be sending delegation of parliamentarians and the ministers to different parts of the world to apprise them about the real situation.
The Prime Minister denied rollback or capping of nuclear programme and said, 'there is no such thing.'
Regarding the memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on transit trade with Afghanistan he said all stakeholders were taken on board in vetting the deal. 'There is no need for any concern. We have taken care of everything,' he said.
Answering a question he said the provincial government had been asked to be vigilant in view of a possible backlash in reaction to the operation.
Answering another question, he said the salaries of law enforcing agencies in the troubled areas would be increased and bomb-proof police stations would be built.