Pakistan: Number of displaced persons exceeds three million

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PESHAWAR: The number of internally displaced persons (IDP) has crossed the three million mark, according to the NWFP government.

Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said at a press conference at the Officers' Mess here on Friday that the number of IDPs now stood at 3.4 million - 2.8 million of them from Malakand division alone.

He said the provincial government was determined to provide all possible facilities to the displaced people and a substantial number of lady doctors had been deputed to look after them.

The minister said 11 doctors were attending to displaced people in Nowshera, 15 in Mardan, 13 in Swabi, two in Malakand, three in Haripur and six in Charsadda. In addition, 73 doctors had been appointed at basic health units set up in the camps.

Mr Hussain claimed that security forces had dismantled the network of terrorists and they were on the run, but they would be pursued till their defeat and surrender.

He said security personnel had arrested some militants from the IDP camps and they were being interrogated.

He said earlier the militants had put leaders on their hit list, but now the government had announced head money on them. 'We are thankful to the federal government for increasing head money on Malakand Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah from Rs5 million to Rs50 million.'

The names of those who blew the whistle on militant leaders and warlords would be kept secret, the minister added.

Referring to reports about thrashing of medical representatives of pharmaceutical companies in Dabgari area, he said militants wanted to scare people in different ways.

He requested journalists not to give coverage to such events.

When his attention was drawn to a threatening letter sent to an Urdu daily, he said only cowards could send threatening letters to shopkeepers and newspapers.

The minister said militant gangs had started using all options of destruction in one go.

'If a suicide bomber fails to blow himself up, his senders blast him by remote control. If the move fails, he is shot at by his collaborators.'

In Peshawar on Thursday, the militants first detonated a planted bomb and then resorted to firing to frighten people, he recalled. The same modus operandi was later used in Dera Ismail Khan.

The minister said the government had changed its strategy against militants after the attacks.

He accused the religious parties opposing the military operation of doing a great 'disservice to the nation by indirectly supporting the agenda of militants.'

Mr Hussain said the operation would continue till the annihilation of all militants in Malakand region.

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