ISLAMABAD - Political and military leadership on Wednesday reviewed the overall situation in the restive Tribal Areas in the light of ongoing precision aerial strikes at the hideouts of the militants.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting at PM House which was attended by Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, director generals of military operations and military intelligence, Defence Minister Kh Asif and Interior Minister Nisar Ali.

They discussed at length the imbroglio in tribal areas and various options to bring peace to the restive areas, including dialogue with those groups within Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan which are ready to shun violence and enter into dialogue process.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting which lasted well over a couple of hours informed The Nation that it was agreed upon that surgical strikes against the groups averse to dialogue process would continue and in this connection Armed Forces were given free hand to operate in the troubled areas.

Sources further said that in the briefing given to the prime minister about the surgical strikes conducted in the various areas, killing several dozen high valued targets, DG Military Operations Maj-Gen Amir Riaz informed the participants that the strikes so far remained quite productive and said that the same would continue for another few weeks to break the backbone of the militant outfits.

Sources further said that the issue of wooing some of the groups within the defunct TTP also came up and both the military and political leadership was of the same view that those interested to enter into meaningful dialogue while remaining within the ambit of constitution would be encouraged.

The political leadership was informed that hunting down of TTP central leader Asmatullah Shaheen Bithani, considered to be the de fecto chief of outfit in troubled areas in the absence of Mullah Fazlullah – who is hiding somewhere in neighbouring Afghanistan—, was the major achievement of the operation so far launched which would fracture the operations of TTP, particularly in troubled areas.

Sources said that PM Nawaz Sharif has given free hand to Army vis-à-vis the aerial strikes at the hideouts of the militants. However, the full-fledged ground operation would not be launched right now and the decision in this connection could be taken at some later stage, probably when the harsh winter in the troubled areas would be over.

Sources further said that the newly framed National Security Policy also came under discussion in the meeting and military leadership assured all out support in intelligence sharing in tracing the militants, particularly in the settled areas of the country where the members of the defunct TTP were hiding and could hit the sensitive installations and important personalities in coming days and months.

Sources said that political leadership was worried about the presence of militants hiding in the settled areas, particularly in the big cities like Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, who could inflict major damage to the lives and property of the people and the state.

It was decided that through better coordination and cooperation and utilisation of the intelligence agencies' services in pro-active fashion could help the government in tracing out these 'sleeper units' of militants in major cities, whose strings were in the hands of their masters hiding in restive tribal areas.



INP adds: Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif visited Kotri Ranges to witness Field Firing and Battle Inoculation Exercise of Karachi Corps on Wednesday.

These exercises are aimed at training troops in various tactical operations under battlefield environment.

Fighter aircraft of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and armoured fighting vehicles of Mechanised Division also participated in live firing manoeuvers as part of the field firing.

COAS commended the standard of training of the participating troops and lauded their skills, precision and accuracy in engaging the targets and said that strenuous training and highest standard of preparedness in peacetime are the only guarantors of peace.

Perpetual quest for modern techniques, seizing initiative from the enemy and mastery in battle procedures are essential for success in all kinds of military operations, whether conventional or unconventional, he stated.

Speaking on the occasion, COAS emphasised on all ranks to continue to focus on training and combat preparedness to respond to full spectrum of threat with speed and effectiveness.

He reiterated the resolve of Armed Forces and said in unequivocal terms that with the backing of the nation, we will accomplish our mission of defeating every threat to our motherland in accordance with the expectation of the people of Pakistan.

Earlier, on arrival at Kotri, COAS was received by Lieutenant General Sajjad Ghani, Corps Commander Karachi.