Pakistan Army announced on Saturday that it had purged the important villages of Boya and Degan of local and foreign militants, counting it as a major success following the clearing of Miramshah. “The consolidation of Boya and Degan is in progress,” it added.
At Mirali, a house-to-house search in Mussaki, Hurmez and Mirali Bazaar is under way. At least four terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire with militants holed up inside Mir Ali, who were firing rockets, mortars and using heavy machine guns and sniper rifles, according to a statement issued by the ISPR, the military’s media wing.
Twelve IEDs were neutralised last night alone, while an IED-making factory, a huge cache of arms and ammunition and foreign currency were also recovered. Meanwhile, the targeting of terrorists and their hideouts in other areas in North Waziristan Agency is continuing, said the ISPR.
In Khyber Agency’s Jamrud tehsil, at least half a dozen houses were razed to the ground by the political administration for their alleged association with suspected militants. An official of the political administration said the operation was launched in Ghundai, Pump House, Bakarabad, Osai Khula, and Nehar areas, adding that 15 tribesmen were held and a curfew imposed.
Separately, Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani visited Mirali, Boya and Degan and met the troops fighting in the operation. “Terrorists are being eliminated and dislodged from their bases in North Waziristan as the operation progresses as per plan,” read the ISPR statement.
Similarly, earlier on Saturday, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the command and control structure of terrorists has been made dysfunctional in North Waziristan. “Terrorists are on the run [...and they] will be tracked down in the entire country for their complete elimination,” he said in a statement.
To avert terrorist attacks, Asif said, coordination has been strengthened among security institutions. There is no place for terrorism in a democratic country, he added.
Also lauding the progress of Zarb-e-Azb, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Abdul Qadir Baloch, a retired lieutenant general, said 50% of the operation’s objectives have been achieved. The government wants the operation to end as soon as possible, he said.
However, the minister cautiously added that this operation is more dangerous than the 1965 and 1971 wars.
Up to 98% of the population of the tribal areas is against militants while a mere 2% is pro-militant.
He also expressed “dismay” over the lacklustre response of Karachi’s business community who generated only Rs10 million for internally displaced persons (IDPs). “The federal government will have to garner funds for the war-victim families [on its own],” he told a news conference in Karachi.
The minister, who had flown to Karachi to meet with industrialists and businessmen to collect funds for IDPs, said that around Rs30 billion is required for relief and rehabilitation of the near one million displaced people. They may remain in the camps for a further six months. He, however, lauded property tycoon Malik Riaz for giving Rs5 billion.
Responding to a question to protest against the arrival of IDPs in Sindh, he reiterated, “Not a single person from the war-torn area lives in Karachi. Those who had earlier come here have left for K-P and other areas.”
Most of the displaced families, he added, have refused to live in the camps. “Only 200 to 300 families are living in the camps.”
With Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s help, Ramazan packages have been distributed to IDPs.
Meanwhile, the distribution of relief items for IDPs continues at Bannu, DI Khan and Tank. A total of 133,002 of ration packs have been distributed so far with 1,639 tons of food items collected. Moreover, 59 relief-donation points established by Pakistan Army all over the country and transported to Bannu.
Khursheed Shah contacts PM Nawaz
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed issues related to IDPs, law and order and Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
Shah informed the prime minister that IDPs have demanded the government ensure that no load-shedding takes place in their camps, said the statement issued by the opposition leader.
In addition, he also apprised the premier about other concerns raised by the displaced families related to their safety and security. IDPs have also demanded additional police personnel at the camps.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.