PESHAWAR - At least 13 militants were killed after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pounded their hideouts, while another 12 more militants surrendered to security forces on Wednesday during the ongoing operation, Zarb-e-Azb, in North Waziristan Agency. Meanwhile, the government is expected 700,000 people to flee North Waziristan fighting.
According to ISPR, the PAF fighters targeted Taliban’s hideouts in the afternoon around Mirali, killing 13 militants and completely destroying their five positions. Moreover, at least 12 militants surrendered to the security forces in North Waziristan Agency.
This is the first time since the beginning of the operation that militants surrendered to the security forces, the statement added.
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan’s tribal region — where a military operation is underway to root out militants — is likely to go up to 700,000, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif said on Wednesday.
Already more than 450,000 people have been registered as displaced since the operation started on June 15, he said, while talking to a private TV channel.
The minister said when the operation was completed — by clearing the region of all foreign and local terrorists — the IDPs would be resettled in their native areas.
He did not give a timeframe as to how long the offensive would continue, but said “we are determined” to finish the job.
Asif said Islamabad was in contact with Kabul regarding the presence of fugitive militants on the Afghan side of the border. “We hope they will not now allow militants to take refuge on Afghanistan’s territory,” the minister said, stressing that elimination of militant sanctuaries in the ongoing operation by Pakistani armed forces would also help establish regional peace.
He said in the post-operation period it would be necessary to give a regular status to the entire FATA to make them part of the national mainstream. The defence minister, while answering a question about the tension between the government and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (people’s movement) of Islamic scholar Dr Tahirul Qadri, accused the latter of pursuing “a conspiracy to destabilise Pakistan.”
Due to the operation against militants in North Waziristan, a total of 455,597 tribesmen of 36,793 families – 119,915 males, 143,785 females and 191,897 children – have been registered as IDPs. Majority of these have shifted to their relatives or rented homes instead of living in the camps already established for the purpose in Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.