Rawalpindi - Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has said that development and public welfare projects in FATA would help improve the quality of life in tribal areas and address the problem of militancy on long-term basis.

General Raheel said this while addressing tribal elders at the inaugural ceremony of an important section of upcoming Central Trade Corridor (CTC) in South Waziristan Agency on Sunday.

The CTC is a strategic road link to facilitate trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and will directly and indirectly help revive local economy of FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The 705-km long road network of an international standard through southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, the CTC is being built by the Army engineers and funded by friendly countries.

Inaugurated on Sunday, the 76-km long Shakai-Makeen Road, funded through USAID, is an important point along the CTC which connects the two main axes of trade corridor i.e., Road Bannu - Miranshah - Ghulam Khan and Road Wana - Aangoor Adda. Apart from other economic, security and strategic advantages, the newly constructed roads have reduced travelling times considerably.

The COAS said that development of FATA is a priority task being undertaken by the Army as a well-considered strategy.

The Army has undertaken 178 projects so far in social sector, communication infrastructure and power sector in FATA and Malakand areas.

While addressing the tribal elders, the COAS appreciated their support in combating terrorism and acknowledged their sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

He reiterated army’s resolve to bring peace and stability to the affected areas.

Referring to operation Zarb-e-Azb, the COAS said that the operation is progressing successfully as per plan.

He said that while focusing on early completion, the army will continue with the rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.

A comprehensive plan in this regard has been chalked out in consultation with the government, he said.

Earlier on his arrival in SWA, the COAS was received by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rehman and the tribal elders.