Zarb-e-Azb to continue till elimination of terrorism: Gen Asim

RAWALPINDI, June 15 (APP): Operation Zarb-e-Azb would continue
till the country was rid of terrorism and the armed forces would not
allow reversal of its gains, Director General, ISPR, Lt Gen Asim Saleem
Bajwa said.

Addressing a press briefing on the conclusion of two- year of operation Zarb-e-Azb, he said, it was a big and long war  and it was going on successfully.

“In two years the whole nation got united, a strategic decision was made and we are making headway. We defeated a complex problem of terrorism. Pakistanis are a brave and resilient nation and unnecessary blame game and undermining of our sacrifices is unacceptable.”

Before the launch of operation, Afghanistan was informed about its every aspect, he said adding North Waziristan was under control of terrorists and it was a no go area and known the world over for its terrorist network, he said while recounting the facts leading to launch of Zarb-e-Azb.

He said the operation was launched in phases and people were provided opportunity to be shifted to safe areas.

The terrorists hideouts were destroyed in Shawal and many operations were carried out in FATA and Swat for establishing writ of the government with sacrifices of our troops, he added.

He said Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) and combing operations were carried out in the four provinces to stop terrorists from spreading.

Operations were also undertaken against the facilitators with the help and cooperation of the citizens, he added.

During the operation, he said 7591 IEDs, 35310 mortar bombs and rockets, 2481 land mines and suicide jackets were recovered.

The troops seized about 253 tons of explosive which according to some calculations was enough for the terrorists to make ammunition and IEDs for 15 years.

During the two years operation, 3500 terrorists were killed and 992 of their hideouts were destroyed.

He said 490 army personnel including 16 officers were martyred while 2108 others were wounded. “The wounded included those who have
either lost their legs, or arms, or eyes, or much more. Despite all that they are in very high spirit and are ready to lay their lives for the cause of the motherland.”

Recounting the details about operation in Karachi which he termed as essential for ensuring gains of Zarb-e-Azb he said 1200 terrorists were killed and nabbed and there was remarkable reduction in incidents of terror and crime in the megapolis.

The DG said during the rehabilitation phase in FATA, schools, mosques and markets are being built and basic infrastructure is developed, adding 700 kilometer long road is being built in Waziristan. He said on this chunk of newly built raod an international level car rally would be organized by the end of the year.

Health sector in the area was neglected and now the army chief has inaugurated a 100 bed hospital besides launching of a number of
water supply schemes.

He expressed hope that the situation will improve further, adding it is important to not let the terrorists return to the areas. There is need to consolidate the gains of Zarb e Azab by putting in place proper border management systems.

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The DG said new wings of FC and para-military forces are being raised to man the check posts, allowing the visitors after proper verification, along 2600 km porous border with Afghanistan.

Director General ISPR said Pakistan was building a check post at Torkham border 37 meter inside its territory and nobody could object to it.

There was a gate at Torkham in 2004 but it was removed to give way for a road to Jalalabad, he mentioned.

He said International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) knew about the border mechanism.

“On our side, there is total clarity about the raising of border posts. The border management mechanism is in the interest of everybody. We are working to improve the system.”

He clarified that the government and the military were jointly taking all decisions on border management.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) on border  management mechanism was ready and would be signed with  Afghanistan, he added.

Answering a question regarding unprovoked firing by Afghans on Torkham, he said, the matter had been taken up at diplomatic as well as military level and the solution of the issue can only be reached
at a dialogue table.

He said the US was running its Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan was in continuous discussion with them, but gradually the talks should be bilateral and the third party would only be there to help.

Afghanistan and its forces were evolving, he said adding  border management mechanism was in the interest of Pakistan and Afghanistan and a crucial aspect to bring peace in the region.

He said people were crossing over the border to carry out acts of terrorism and Pakistan had many evidences to prove the fact.

He said that all the 14 terrorists behind the Badaber Base attack
had slipped in to Pakistan from Afghanistan and stayed in a nearby
locality prior to launching the attack.

On the firing by Afghan soldiers at under construction Torkham
border post, he said, Pakistani troops effectively responded
according to the set procedure.

A Pakistani major Ali Jawad was martyred and 19 others were
injured in the incident, he added.

He said it was unfortunate when a peaceful crossing point
became a place of violence.

He said nobody had the desire to prolong that issue and there
was engagement on political and diplomatic and army to army levels, to
resolve the issue. “We want to resolve this issue as soon as

The Director General ISPR said the world needs to understand Pakistan’s challenges as it had a long porous border with Afghanistan and it was humanly not possible to totally seal it.

To a question about handing over of Angoor Adda check post to Afghanistan, he said it was a Pakistani post inside Afghanistan
territory and it was handed over back to Afghan officials after
revelations of the facts.

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The post was handed over after consultation with the government and all other stakeholders, he said adding not a single inch of Pakistani territory was given to Afghanistan.

He said he had evidence about network of Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) that it was working in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and those persons came through Torkham.

Indian intelligence agency RAW was also running a network of terrorists, he said adding there were hostile intelligence agencies
and Pakistani agencies had foiled their many attempts and seriously
dented their ability to plan and execute plots.

He said for the first time, a serving officer of RAW who was running a network in Pakistan, was arrested.

No intelligence agency would be allowed to operate and destabilize the country, he stressed.

DG ISPR terming China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a game changer, said the army was committed to protect the most valuable project and ensure its success.

Answering a question regarding the level of Pakistan- Afghanistan relations, he said the present DG ISI went to Afghanistan before assuming office and Pakistan had always been showing sincerity in improving relations with Afghanistan.

Our army chief visited Kabul six times and met the Afghan President as part of efforts to help improve bilateral relations, he added.

When asked to comment on the peace process in Afghanistan through talks with Taliban, he said Quadrilateral Group comprising four countries had also been trying to resolve the issues in Afghanistan, however, efforts for peace were scuttled with the death of Mullah Omar.

He said that more meetings of ISI and DNS would be very important for establishing peace.

To a question, he said life in Swat had returned to normalcy, tourists were coming and numerous events were being held, economic indicators were improving in the area.

Now the army and the civil administration were rehabilitating the internally displaced persons, all of whom would return to their homes by the end of this year.

To a question, he said drone attack by United States was a sad
and unfortunate development.

Pakistan condemned and showed concern over the drone attack
and said that its bilateral relations could be affected and the act
would undermine the peace process. US fired the drone unilaterally
and it violated the sovereignty of Pakistan.

When his attention was drawn towards Pakistan’s demand from
the United States to target Mullah Fazlullah in Afghanistan, he said
the result of the demand would only be visible after targetting of
the target by the executor.

He said there were 3.5 million Afghan refugees living in 53 camps in Pakistan for the last 35 years and most of them were living outside the camps and Pakistan was in talks with international agencies for their dignified early return.

To a question, Lt Gen Bajwa said 102 cases of terrorists were decided in the military courts, adding 77 persons were awarded death sentences and 12 were executed.