Islamabad - Army Chief General Raheel Sharif said yesterday that space for terrorists and abettors has been squeezed as a result of Zarb-e-Azb military operation.

“Inshallah”, the day is not far when our beloved homeland will be an icon of peace and seat of learning among the comity of nations,” he said while addressing Shandur Festival in Chitral on Sunday.

He said Zar-e-Azb, backed by the entire nation, is an endeavour towards achieving lasting peace and the voyage would continue with determination and zeal in the entire country till achievement of the goal.

About the Shandur Festival, General Raheel said that it is a happy augury for the promotion of tourism at local as well as international level. “Rather it’s a message to the terrorists that we continue to carry forward our traditions with all courage and boldness”, he added.

He said this “colourful function is an omen to our country’s bright future and evidence that we are heading to achieving prosperity and advancement”.

“Today, we are breathing in a free environment and this is only because of the countless sacrifices rendered by the people and armed forces of the country.”

Referring to the hardships being faced by the people of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, the COAS said he was cognisant of the situation.

Frequent occurrence of natural calamities adds a lot to the miseries of the local people, he said. During all such trying times, he added, it’s a known fact that Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps with the help of medical practitioners extend helping hand to the local populace.

During recent floods, he said helicopters of Pakistan Army had shifted the injured and marooned people to safer places, besides establishing a number of relief camps to help mitigate their sufferings. The FWO undertook repair work at about 50 points restoring vehicular traffic by rehabilitating important road links.

He made a mention of the contributions by the Special Telecommunication Organisation (SCO) for providing uninterrupted telecom facilities. He appreciated various organisations including local government department for providing relief, rescue and rehabilitation services at the time of natural calamities in the area.

The army chief said the armed forces of the country will always be in the forefront to render sacrifices, may it be any natural calamity or defence of the motherland.

He felicitated the participating teams of Polo competition, organisers, Headquarters 11 Corps, Frontier Corps, Chitral Scouts, Civil Administration, Tourism Corporation and other law enforcement agencies for successful holding of the festival.

Gen Raheel applauded the spirit of the people, especially the youth, who enthusiastically participated in the festival to make the event a complete success.