WASHINGTON - Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has categorically stated that the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation targets all militants without any discrimination and that it is aimed at defeating the menace of terrorism squarely.

“I would like to openly say that this (operation) is against all hues and colors, and it is without any discrimination, whether it is Haqqani network or TTP or anyone else,” he said. Gen. Sharif was speaking at a reception hosted by Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani in honor of the visiting military delegation which was also attended by senior American officials from the State and Defense departments including US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Dan Feldman. The army chief said the Zarb-e-Azb operation has been launched with great commitment and sincerity after consultations with the political government and backing of the entire nation, which is proud of the army’s achievements in the fight against terror.

Zarb-e-Azb, he said, is not just a military offensive but is a concept to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The anti-terror campaign is not restricted to Waziristan and Khyber tribal areas but covers the whole country, he said.Gen. Sharif saw close counterterrorism cooperation in the months ahead between Pakistan and Afghanistan under the administration of new President Ashraf Ghani and was confident of progress towards establishing peace and stability in the region.“The phenomenon of IS will not be allowed in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the army chief said.

He also expressed satisfaction with his visit to the United States and said he had very good meetings with his counterparts on military-to-military relationship. In his remarks, Ambassador Jilani referred to Pakistan’s determined fight against terror and improving Pakistan-Afghanistan relations at an important time for the region and said the developments require closer Pakistan-US cooperation.

“On the one hand things are looking up, new challenges are also emerging which require good cooperation between our two countries”. The ambassador said the defence relations are an important component of the wide-ranging Pakistan-US relationship. In a brief interaction with the media, US Special Representative Dan Feldman said that the army chief had constructive and positive meetings during his visit.

Meanwhile, Pakistani army chief discussed military relations and regional security issues including Afghanistan with US lawmakers belonging to Senate Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Armed Services committees from Pakistan’s perspective. The Pakistani delegation emphasized the position to have relations with India on the basis of dignity and respect. Pakistan’s ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani accompanied the delegation to meetings at the Pentagon and the Capitol Hill.

Separately, General Raheel along with Ambassador Jilani met Ambassador Susan Rice, the US National Security Adviser at the White House on Thursday.

General Sharif and NSA Rice held in-depth discussions on the ongoing Pakistan-US security issues and expressed satisfaction on the overall positive trajectory in the bilateral relationship.

Both sides reaffirmed their mutual desire and commitment to strengthen their relationship. General Sharif thanked Ambassador Rice for understanding Pakistan’s perspective on regional security and counter terrorism efforts.

The chief of army staff also apprised Rice of the situation emerging in the region including violation of ceasefire accord and shelling by India on LoC and the Working Boundary.

Both sides acknowledged the importance of reinforcing stability in Afghanistan. In this regard, NSA Rice appreciated the high level exchanges between Pakistan and Afghanistan following the inauguration of the new unity government led by Dr Ashraf Ghani. Both sides also recognised the continued need for close coordination and cooperation for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. General Raheel Sharif is in Washington for his first official visit to the United States on the invitation of the US Army Chief of Staff.