No external force to be allowed to obstruct CPEC project: Gen Raheel Sharif

RAWALPINDI, Sep 6 (APP): Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif Tuesday said no external force would be allowed to obstruct Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and any such attempt would be dealt with iron hands.

Addressing the main ceremony on the occasion of Defence Day of Pakistan here at General Headquarters (GHQ), he said, “CPEC is the paramount evidence of Pakistan-China relationship.

This great project will not only consolidate our mutual economic relations but will also help the overall prosperity of the region. Its timely completion and protection is our national undertaking.”

He said the greatest example of a relationship based on mutual respect and principle of equality in the region is the Pak-China friendship.

The army chief paid tribute to the martyrs and heroes of the
nation “whose unmatched sacrifices, courage and sense of duty enabled us to breathe in an independent and respectable country.”

The war of September 1965 is a glorious chapter of
national history that bestowed a new determination and unity upon the people of Pakistan.

The supreme valour of the men and officers of Pakistan Army, Air Force, and Navy have made this day the most distinguished day in the history of Pakistani nation, he added.

He said 50 years later, this day has also become the emblem of the sacrifices, steadfastness, and bravery of all those martyrs and heroes who successfully stood up to such enormous challenges as Operation Zarb-e-Azb and a decade-long war against terror.

“I want to make it clear to all enemies of Pakistan that
Pakistan has always been strong and today it is invincible.”

For the past few years, our country is faced with the menace of terrorism and an unconventional war in which the nation and the armed forces have rendered countless sacrifices side by side.”

He said while terrorism has crumbled many countries around the world, Pakistan, by the grace of Allah Almighty, has valiantly fought this challenge.

“A few years ago, we were faced with terrorists attacks almost on a daily basis. No part of the country, including defence installations, was beyond the enemy’s reach.

The writ of the state had practically ended in many parts of the country. North Waziristan had become a hotbed of terrorists.”

Doubts and misgivings about war on terrorism were common in many circles, he said adding, “But, as Chief of Army Staff, I held full faith in the capabilities and resolve of the armed forces of Pakistan. It was this faith that encouraged us to launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb.”

“We named Operation Zarb-e-Azb after the Sword of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) so that we would be guided on every step by the Edicts of Allah Almighty and the examples of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

This sword can only be raised for the protection of the oppressed and the innocent and to eradicate evil
and disorder from the land.”

The army chief said, “The process of indiscriminate
elimination of terrorists from our soil that we started two years ago in the form of Operation Zarb-e-Azb has attained its laid down military objectives, and, today, the Green banner flutters proudly over all parts of our dear homeland.”

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“Since the start of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, we have undertaken over 19,000 operations across the length and breadth of the country to overcome terrorism. In this long voyage of success, Pakistan Army has been aided by invaluable sacrifices rendered by Rangers, Frontier Corps, Police and Levies.

Our intelligence agencies have played a vital role in these achievements.”

General Raheel Sharif said the success of Zarb-e-Azb results from unparalleled tri-services cooperation.

“Especially Pakistan Air Force has worked in close harmony
with Pakistan Army at every stage of this operation. This mutual harmony of the Armed Forces is our treasured asset,” he observed.

General Raheel Sharif said during the war on terrorism, almost 18,000 innocent citizens and 5,000 officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces laid their lives while over 48,000 Pakistanis suffered serious injuries.

“We shall not allow the sacrifices of our martyrs to go in
vain. Zarb-e-Azb might be just another military offensive for the world, but for us, it is the war of survival for our homeland.

We shall not hesitate from going to any extent to ensure our national security.”

He said he realised that the brave tribals had borne the
hardships of leaving their homes for the sake of peace.

“Pakistan army is vigorously engaged in all the projects for
the better and brighter future for temporary displaced people (TDP) and their coming generations. God willing, the repatriation  process for the TDP will also be concluded soon.”

“As a nation, we can be rightfully proud of the accomplishments made during this brief span. Now we see the solutions instead of new problems.”

He reminded that the internal and external threats to peace
had not yet ended completely.

For a lasting peace, it was necessary to ensure country-wide
implementation of National Action Plan, formed out of the collective wisdom of the nation, in its true letter and spirit, he stressed.

The COAS said scholars, intellectuals and media must propagate the peaceful and universal message of Islam in order to eradicate the negative notions of extremism.

“In order to root out terrorism, we must also remove such
weaknesses in our criminal justice system which impede the complete eradication of terrorism.

“The evil nexus of heinous crimes, corruption and terrorism is a great impediment to achieving complete peace and is a cause of social unrest. Effective and far-reaching reforms are needed to break this nexus.”

He said for the operation to yield its full dividends, all
stakeholders and institutions of state must play their respective roles with utmost sincerity and commitment.

“While army and law enforcement personnel are putting their
lives at stake to curb the facilitators, abettors, financiers and
sympathisers of the enemies, some elements are trying to create an atmosphere of mistrust in the nation towards security and intelligence organizations.”

Despite all these misgivings and accusations, our morale
remains high, he said adding, “We are sincerely playing our active role for peace in Afghanistan. But some self-seeking quarters that are definitely not sincere towards Afghanistan, are obstructing these efforts.”

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“I bear upon such elements that Afghanistan is our neighbour
and brother Islamic country. Peace and stability there is vital to Pakistan’s own interest.”

The army chief said better management of international border between the two countries takes precedence in our national interest.

“We want to establish an effective border management mechanism in concert with Afghan government.

I am certain that a better peace environment will lead to our shared economic progress.”

He said, “We desire peaceful relations with all our neighbours
but the fact can never be overlooked that the true assurance of peace in the region is the balance of power.

Despite all external machinations and instigations, we are ever prepared for the defence of our borders and are capable to defend our dear homeland in all domains, may it be conventional or unconventional.”

He saluted the great sacrifices of the people of Indian Held
Kashmir for their right of self-determination.

“The oppressed people of Occupied Kashmir are once again
suffering worst form of state terrorism and repression for demanding their due rights.

The true solution for this struggle for self-determination
resides not in raining bullets upon the defenceless Kashmiri people, but in heeding to their voice and respecting their aspirations.

Kashmir issue can only be resolved by implementing the UN

General Raheel Sharif said, “Kashmir is our lifeline, and we shall continue our diplomatic and moral support to the freedom movement at all levels.”

“Here I want to make it clear that we are fully aware of all
covert and overt intrigues and intentions of our enemies. Be the challenge military or diplomatic, be the danger on the borders or within the cities, we know our friends and foes all too well.

We know well how to abide by bonds of friendship and how to avenge upon our enemies.”

He also saluted the innocent children of Army Public School,
the youthful students of Bacha Khan University, Balochistan’s
lawyers, martyrs of the nation, valiant men of the Armed Forces, intelligence agencies, Rangers, police, and Levies, whose lives were laid in the defence of the country and the everlasting greatness of their resolute families. “Your passion reinforces our resolve.”

He said he was proud to command an army whose officers and men hold aloft the traditions of the great heroes of yore.

“I have an unwavering faith in the courage and determination
of each of my countrymen. Especially our youth is the herald, custodian and guarantor of Pakistan’s bright future.”

“On behalf of my entire nation, I want to impress upon the
enemies of peace and humanity that if we can win, we also know how to protect our victory,” he added.

Federal ministers, chiefs of armed forces, diplomats and
dignitaries attended the event.

Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafar ul Haq, Leader of  the Opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah and former armed  forces chiefs were also present.

Earlier, the army chief laid a wreath at the monument of martyrs and raised his hands in prayer for the martyrs.