ISLAMABAD - The federal government on Saturday decided to release Rs 15 billion to meet the expenses of the operation Zarb-e-Azb launched in North Waziristan Agency to destroy the militant safe havens.

“The Finance Ministry approved Rs 15 billion for the successful completion of Zarb-e-Azb. The ministry will release Rs 8 billion on Monday (tomorrow) and the remaining Rs 7 billion in the end of the current month,” said a Finance Ministry official. However, he did not share further details in this regard.

Pakistan Army on June 15 this year launched the long-awaited military campaign to destroy the militant safe havens in North Waziristan Agency. The operation targeted foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in the tribal region.

Tauqeer Ahmad, director general, army’s budget, on July 14 met Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and sought immediate funds of Rs 22 billion to meet the expenses of the operation. The Finance Ministry at that time partially met the requirement and asked the military to cover the shortfall from its own resources, which the federal government would pay, later.

Keeping in view that demand, the Finance Ministry released only Rs 15 billion. “The finance minister assured the director general that adequate resources would be provided for the military operation and the internally displaced persons,” according to a handout issued by the Finance Ministry on July 14.

However, it could not be established either the government released Rs 15 billion from the defence budget allocated for the ongoing fiscal year or it is an additional amount. The Nation tried to contact Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and Spokesperson for Finance Ministry, Rana Asad Amin, to seek their comments, but they were not available.

The incumbent government had apportioned Rs 700 billion for meeting the country’s burgeoning defence needs for the financial year 2014-2015, which is almost 10 percent higher than the revised defence budget worth Rs 637 billion of the previous fiscal year 2013-2014. The amount of Rs 700 billion is exclusive of the military’s share in CSF, disbursed by the United States and receipts from the United Nations on account of contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping missions. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected in its report that Pakistan’s defence budget would be Rs 706 billion for the financial year 2014-2015.