ISLAMABAD: The military claims to have killed another 28 terrorists in fresh air raids on Sunday, pushing the total number of militants killed since the launch of the North Waziristan operation to over 500.
Six terrorist hideouts were destroyed by warplanes in the Shawal area of North Waziristan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. At least 28 terrorists – including local and foreigners – were killed in these strikes. The statement, however, didn’t give details on the identities or nationalities of the slain terrorists.
The North Waziristan offensive, codenamed Operation Zarb-e-Azb, began on June 15. And the military has been relying on air power to soften the targets before sending ground troops into the troubled areas.
The military has already cleared Miramshah, the main administrative town of North Waziristan, of militants. Once considered strongholds of foreign militants such as Uzbeks, two key villages — Boya and Degan — are also now under the military’s control.
House-to-house searches are under way in the Mussaki, Hurmez and Mirali Bazaar areas of Mirali. Terrorists holed up inside Mirali and surrounding areas have been firing rockets, mortars, heavy machineguns and sniper rifles, said military officials.
Defence Minister Khawja Muhammad Asif, who accompanied Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the GHQ in Rawalpindi for a briefing on Operation Zarb-e-Azb on Friday, claimed that the command and control structure of militants has been destroyed.
However, despite claims of successes, no timeframe has been given by government or military authorities for the completion of the operation.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Lt General Asif Yasin Malik, who wrapped up an official visit to the US on Sunday, apprised American authorities of the Waziristan operation and highlighted the government’s efforts to eliminate violent extremists in the country.
Malik was leading a high-level delegation which interacted with senior US civil and military authorities, according to a statement issued by the defence ministry.
He also visited CENTCOM, where he met with its chief General Lloyd J Austin. During the meeting, Malik highlighted Pakistan’s efforts for peace in the region besides discussing important regional and security issues.
The CENTCOM chief said both Pakistan and the US were important to each other’s national interests. Pakistan has always been a useful partner and relations between the two countries are continuously progressing on an upward trajectory, he added.
Secretary Malik reiterated that being a pivotal partner to the international community, Pakistan has rendered great sacrifices in the war against terror. Pakistan wants peace in the region and is ready to play its role for achieving the goal of lasting stability, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.