Shoot-at-sight in Sindh; Taliban tells people to return to Swat

Shoot-at-sight order was issued on Monday here to quell violence, as agitators protesting against the influx of refugees from Swat forced complete shut down in Pakistan's commercial capital.

A local group Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) forced authorities to wind up shelters, which housed the displaced ethnic Pushtuns from the restive NWFP as they observed the provincial strike.

Abdul Wahid Aresar who heads the JSQM said the province could not accept anymore immigrants as the native Sindhis were being marginalised.

"It is not an issue of helping displaced people, but of the existing burden on the province and Karachi," he said. All major shopping centres, shops and educational institutions were closed in Karachi and there was a complete shutdown in the interior parts of Sindh province.

The Home Department has also extended for a month ban on pillion riding in Karachi and according to the Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza shoot-at-sight order of miscreants had already been issued.

Pakistani troops captured a key Taliban stronghold in Swat valley and moved to wrest its main town Mingora, where the militants on Monday appealed to civilians to return and promised to hold fire but stopped short of calling it a truce.

Amid intense fighting, nearly 2.4 million people have fled their homes, the UN and government officials said. The military said the security forces have secured Maalam Jabba, located on the main line of communication and connecting Swat Valley with Mansehra in Hazara area.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the militants are appealing to people in Mingora town to return to their homes. "I would like to appeal to the people of Mingora to get back to their homes and start their routine life as we will not fire even a single shot," Khan said. However, he declined to term it a ceasefire.

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