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Pakistani Army Rejects Criticism Of Campaign Against Militants


Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor (file photo)

Pakistan's military has rejected accusations that the country is harboring militants who launch attacks in neighboring Afghanistan.

In a wide-ranging press conference on June 4, chief military spokesman Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan had been battling against militancy and noted that the country had paid a heavy price in its campaign against extremism.

"More than 70,000 Pakistanis and 16,000 soldiers have been killed and wounded in this war," Ghafoor said at the army's headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The comments come one day after activists from the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM) clashed with Taliban-linked militants in the country's northwest, near the Afghan border.

At least two people were killed and some 25 wounded in the clash in the Rustam Bazar of Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, local officials say.

PTM echoed accusations -- repeatedly voiced by Kabul and Washington -- that the Pakistani military continues to allow extremists a safe haven from which to launch attacks in Afghanistan, while only targeting insurgents who turn their guns on Pakistan.

In the press conference, Ghafoor hit back at PTM, accusing the group of being manipulated by "enemies of Pakistan."

PTM activists have been calling for the return of disappeared Pashtuns allegedly detained during military operations in the region.

The group also condemns what it describes as undue harassment of Pashtuns at checkpoints and demand authorities remove security posts.

Based on reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
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