Pakistan's military offensive suspended for Ramadan

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Government of Pakistan has decided to halt the military operation in tribal areas during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. There will be no operation from the night of August 31 till October 2, However, security forces are prepared to deal with the militants using full force, if the militants take advantage of the ceasefire.

Pakistan's government decided on the suspension to allow displaced civilians near the country's border with Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to return home for the month-long period of fasting, which is expected to begin September 1st. Pakistan's border with Afghanistan is rife with Islamic extremists and has been the site of recent deadly clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants. Since then, Islamic militants vowed to retaliate, and the country has been rocked by several suicide bombings.

Pakistan's five-month-old government at first tried peace talks with militants, but those efforts were ultimately fruitless. It has turned to force in recent weeks, even going as far as using air power to strike insurgent hide-outs.

The exact start of Ramadan depends on the sighting of the new moon. Muslims are required to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

The government ceasefire will stay in place until the second day of Eid ul-Fitr, which heralds the end of the month of fasting with three days of feasts and celebrations.