ISLAMABAD: Addressing reports of civilian deaths in recent air strikes, Federal Minister for State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch said Shawal, an isolated village in North Waziristan, is being cleared of militants and there were no civilian deaths in the area.
While addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Baloch said failure is not an option in the war against terrorism.
“There is no space for failure on any front,” he said, adding that the current conflict would be longer one than the wars of 1965 and 1971.
Further, he said, the military operation would be expanded to other cities of the country, including Karachi, to ensure complete eradication of terrorism, which has led to the crumbling of the country’s economy and a considerable decrease in investment.
“We want to restore the country's investment-friendly image," he explained.
The first phase of the operation was launched in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the minister urged that the operation be expanded to other parts of the country as well.
Baloch, a key member of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet, further confessed that the government failed to mobilise the public after the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“I accept this as my failure,” said Baloch.
Baloch, who was tasked by the premier to handle the issue of IDPs, cautioned that the number of IDPs would rise above 2 million in the coming days due to the expansion of the ongoing military operation. He warned that the rehabilitation and safe return of these people would be a big challenge for the government.
“If we succeed to ensure the safe and happy return of these people then we can win this war,” he said.
Further, Baloch clarified that over 70% of foreign institutions, which applied for a No Objection Certificate (NOC), had received one and were welcome to help with relief efforts.
Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz chaired an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss rehabilitation of IDPs after the operation.
The meeting was attended by economic affairs division secretary, chairman of National Disaster Management Authority and representatives of Safron and military operations directorates.
A representative of Safron informed the meeting that the FATA Secretariat is already in the process of preparing a damage assessment report for rehabilitation and reconstruction to be carried out after the operation.