Islamabad, Jul 26 (UNI) Pakistan's Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik has claimed that at least one al-Qaeda man and around 32 hardcore deputy commander-level Taliban militants were arrested from northwestern district of Hangu during a recently concluded army operation.
''The biggest catch we landed in the operation was the arrest of Rafiuddin, the Deputy Commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban and one al-Qaeda man, Amjad,'' Mr Malik told the media in Islamabad last evening.
''35 to 40 militants were detained and 17 of our soldiers, including one officer, were martyred in this operation. Still we have to see how many of those detained are hardcore militants belonging to the three organisations that we have banned. We will release the details about them as well,'' he said.
He said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had directed to strictly avoid 'collateral damage' during the 'Bara' (Khyber tribal region) and Hangu operations.
''No civilian was killed either in Hangu or Bara. We strictly kept the directions of the Prime Minister while conducting the operation,'' the Minister said.
He said the 'Hangu operation' was not a military operation but a 'law enforcement action' during which the help of the Pakistan Army was sought by the concerned authorities in accordance with the constitution of the country.
It was a 'law enforcement action' specifically targeted on the basis of 'qualitative intelligence of the military intelligence, ISI and intelligence bureau, he said.
''I am happy to report that suicide bombings in Sindh and Punjab have dropped to zero because of the strategy that we adopted,'' he added.
He said the government had 'short-, mid- and long-term strategies' which are being applied with the consent of the federal government and the coalition partners in the province.
However, Mr Malik made it clear that there would be no dialogue with extremists and law breakers. 'We will enter into dialogue only with the law abiders, with the peace loving people of the area, and this is working very well,'' he said.
He said Pakistan was designing its own policies to fight extremism and terrorism and was not taking any sort of dictation from the US or from the West. ''There is no interference whatsoever from outside and we will not accept any interference from anywhere,'' he asserted.
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