|DG ISPR Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa|
PESHAWAR (Express Tribune): Military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa said on Wednesday that in the wake of the ongoing operation in North Waziristan, Afghanistan was not cooperating with the Pakistan Army the way they had hoped.
Briefing the media in Peshawar on the army operations in North Waziristan and Khyber-I, the director general Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that before Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched, Afghanistan was informed and requested to dislodge, hand-over and kill the militants fleeing the region.
Bajwa went on to say that the leadership of splinter groups of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are operating from Afghanistan.
“Banned TTP outfit leadership is operating from Afghanistan,” DG ISPR said, adding that splinter groups have bases in Afghanistan from where they make videos and contact media groups from. However, he said the militants are not ‘organised’ anymore.
Responding to a question on the use of Afghan SIMs by militants, he said the signals of Afghan telecommunication companies spill over Pakistani territory and the Afghan side was required to carry out work in this regard.
He added that the use of these SIMs is dangerous and certain mobile phone signal towers situated near the border area would have to be relocated.
Furthermore, Maj Gen Bajwa also said that Operation Khyber-I was launched in Khyber Agency to tackle militants fleeing North Waziristan owing to the ongoing Operations Zarb-e-Azb.
However, he affirmed that all militants would soon be indiscriminately and permanently eliminated from Pakistan.
“We will eliminate all militants this time,” he asserted, assuring that no one will be allowed to use Pakistan’s soil for terrorism.
Bajwa said several areas of North Waziristan have been cleared of militants as Zarb-e-Azb continues successfully. ”The operation is currently ongoing in Datta Khel,” he informed, “The Pakistan Army has got control of all major areas in North Waziristan.”
He went on to add that “132.5 tonnes of explosives and 2 million tonnes of ammunition have been recovered from North Waziristan.”
He reiterated that over 1,100 militants have been killed so far in Operation Zarb-e-Azb alone, excluding the operations in Karachi and Khyber Agency.
He added 100 Pakistan Army soldiers have also been killed while fighting in the operation.
Shifting his focus to Operation Khyber-I in Khyber Agency, Bajwa said 44 milliants have been killed while 100 have been arrested in the region. He added that just as immediate effects of Zarb-e-Azb could be seen in the various cities of Pakistan with a decline in terrorist activities, there has been a similar decline in terrorism in Peshawar owing the Khyber-I.
“Over 199 militants have surrendered so far,” the DG ISPR said.
“This operation is steady and short-footed, we realise that militants can accumulate here but it is clear that we will kill all militants indiscriminately and clearance is happening but the way it is progressing we are certain militancy will end from here forever.”
“We have support from locals because the residents are sick of militancy as well,” the DG ISPR said.
Responding to a question regarding Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Bajwa said, “It is not possible to give a time-frame.”
However, he said that he has been informing people of the progress of the operation.
“We have a plan and sequence to follow to ensure the people (IDPs) who move back do not face any dangers anymore,” he said regarding the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons.
Regarding Swat operation, Bajwa said that after the operation, the law and order situation in Swat improved.
“Even after the floods, the army restored the infrastructure and worked for the revival of Swat’s economy and tourism leading to stability in the areas.”
“Army will be deployed in 134 sensitive areas during Muharram on requisitions of provincial governments,” DG ISPR said regarding preparations for the holy month.
Referring to the attacks on aircraft which have increased in frequency at Peshawar airport, Bajwa said the intelligence agencies have been working on this.
“We have arrested some gangs involved in firing at aircraft and are working to arrest all of them.”
Bajwa appealed to residents to inform authorities of any movement regarding terrorism.
Responding to a question regarding recent border clashes with India which have killed at least 12 Pakistanis, the military spokesperson said the Pakistan Army has the ability to respond befittingly to Indian aggression.
“It is being proven worldwide that India is violating the ceasefire,” he said, adding that the Pakistan Army will continue to respond befittingly.
The military spokesperson admitted that the violations divert the army’s attention but has not affected the number of troops deployed in the operations.
“Foreign Office has also said that construction material was being transported and according to the agreement construction work cannot be brought forward,” he said referring to FO’s statement that India was constructing bunkers on the working boundary.