x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistan posts $120,000 reward for Taliban information

Government announces reward of 10 million rupees to anyone who provides information about the Taliban.

Pakistan on Saturday announced a reward of 10 million rupees (around $120,000) to anyone providing information about the Taliban, as Islamabad struggles to defeat the militants.

"The government will make arrangements to settle the informers and their families anywhere in the country, even abroad, if they fear that Taliban might hurt them," interior minister Rehman Malik told reporters.

Malik said that most Taliban belonged to the banned Sunni militant outfits of Laskhar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as Pakistan's most extreme Sunni outfit, accused of killing hundreds of minority Shiite Muslims after its emergence in the early 1990s. It was banned by then president Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

The group played a key role in the 2002 kidnap and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl from Karachi and in twin failed assassination bids on key US ally Musharraf in December 2003.

Sipah-e-Sahaba is also a banned Sunni extremist outfit behind attacks on Shiites.

Around 4,000 people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks that have been blamed on homegrown Taliban and other militant networks across Pakistan since government forces raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

Taliban and al Qa'eda-linked militants have rear bases in Pakistan's northwest and semi-autonomous tribal belt on the Afghan border.

Afghan and US officials say their leaders enjoy at least some measure of protection from Pakistan.

Pakistan flatly denies any collusion and says more than 2,420 of its soldiers have been killed fighting Islamist militants since 2002, when the United States put the country on the front line of its war on al Qa'eda.