PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD - The Army Thursday made it clear that operation Zarb-e-Azb is against all the terrorists including Haqqani Network and who so ever challenges the writ of the state will be taken to task.
“For the military, there will be no discrimination among Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) groups or Haqqani network, all terror groups are going to be eliminated,” ISPR DG told a briefing at GHQ. He said so far 327 terrorists and 10 security personnel have been killed.
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa confirmed the presence of a large number of Uzbeks and other foreign militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), saying that they will all be wiped out. “
Meanwhile, military shelled the main town of North Waziristan Thursday in the latest round of its offensive against militants. The heavy bombardment of Miranshah, the strategic town, began at 6am, according to local intelligence and military sources.
“The army has started using artillery since 6am today and has bombarded Miranshah bazaar and Zafar town areas through cannon and tanks,” an intelligence official in Miranshah said. Another intelligence official and a senior military official confirmed the information.
A full assault by ground troops has been expected for some days and the intensification of the shelling could indicate that it is now imminent. It comes after nearly two weeks of air raids on militant targets as part of an operation aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan.
“North Waziristan has become a hub of terror and suicide attacks in the country because planning of such attacks was taking place here,” Bajwa remarked in his media talk. He dispelled the impression that the operation was launched without political approval and said, “The operation was launched after a decision was made at the political level.”
The chief military spokesman said it is solely a Pakistan Army operation and not a joint Pak-US military offensive, adding that Pakistani security forces are capable of doing such an operation. He said that Pakistan voiced against the drone attacks, as Pakistan armed forces were fully capable to defeat terrorists.
The Pakistan Army has requested the Afghan military to take action against terrorist hideouts in Kunar and Nooristan, but so far there has been no action taken,” General Bajwa said. To a question, he pointed out that 400 Afghan families had crossed over to Afghanistan after the start of ongoing operation.
Terming it a war of survival of Pakistan, he said the whole nation had to play its role to support armed forces in rooting out terrorism from the country. He also urged the media to create awareness among the people to wipe out any misperception regarding the operation. He said that joint control rooms had been set up with UAN - 1135 in different cities where people could share information about any suspicious person or activity.
The DG said as many as 327 hardcore terrorists had been killed while 45 hideouts of terrorists were destroyed in North Waziristan Agency during ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb launched on June 15. He said that 19 terrorists surrendered before the security personnel. He informed that 10 personnel of law enforcement agencies laid down their lives while seven were injured in the line of duty.
North Waziristan, he held, had become stronghold of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups and a launching pad for terrorist activities in other parts of the country. Giving the details he said during January 29 to June 8, some 195 persons were martyred in 20 terrorist incidents.
In this backdrop, it was decided to launch an operation aimed at restoring the writ of the government. He said, that army troops, FC Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s troops, Khassadar, levis, intelligence agencies and Pakistan Air Force were deployed to flush out the terrorist from the area.
ISPR DG said the registration and evacuation process of IDPs has by and large been completed, adding that so far 456,292 people comprising 36,804 families had been registered and majority of them had shifted to their relatives in Bannu, DI Khan and Lakki Marwat. He said only a few hundred persons opted to stay in the camps set up for the IDPs.
General Bajwa said that 50 army personnel along with 20 NDMA officials were deployed for registration of all IDPs. Six ration distribution points have been established at Bannu, DI Khan and Tank for provision of food packets and medicines to the IDPs. While every family was given Rs 15,000 besides one-month ration announced by the army, he added.
The DG ISPR said that NADRA mobile, and Smart Card vans were made available to check the identity of the incoming IDPs at the registration centres. Out of all enlisted IDPs, 221,000 were administered polio drops, he added. About relief collection points, he said 32 such points had been set up at different cities.