Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said on Friday that the long festering Kashmir dispute has to be resolved for durable, long-term peace in the South Asian region. “Pakistan wants peace, but with dignity and honour,” he said while speaking at a think-tank, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), in London.
According to Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), who was accompanying the army chief on a three-day official trip to the United Kingdom, General Raheel also said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the ongoing offensive against terrorists in North Waziristan Agency, was progressing well.
The army chief said there were no favourites and all kinds of terrorists were being hit. Pakistani military officials have repeatedly said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was indiscriminate and targeted at terrorists of all hues and nobody was being spared.
The operation was launched in mid-June following a brazen attack on the Karachi airport by Taliban gunmen and after a government peace initiative with the Taliban fell apart. Hundreds of thousands of tribesmen have been displaced by the operation.
Gen Raheel said the international community should help in a ‘dignified resettlement’ of these temporarily displaced persons (TDPs) in North Waziristan.
Following the December 16 massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar, the Pakistani government adopted a National Plan of Action (NAP) against terrorism. Gen Raheel told the IISS that the NAP was a comprehensive long-term strategy to address extremism, terrorism in the country with the government doing its best for its implementation.
About Pakistan’s western neighbour, Gen Raheel said that the relations with Afghanistan were improving, adding, “We are working for stability in the region”. The world needs to understand our environment, he added. “Our cooperation with the United Kingdom in security, social sector is growing.”
Giving statistics of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Maj Gen Bajwa said that 2,000 militants have been killed thus far. Similarly, 200 soldiers have been killed and 800 others injured in action since the launch of the operation, he said while addressing the Royal United Services Institute, according to Radio Pakistan.
The chief military spokesperson reiterated the army’s resolve to ensure the writ of the state in Bajaur and North Waziristan agencies at all costs by wiping out militants. The army chief has clearly directed his men to carry out operations against terrorists without any discrimination, Bajwa said. He added that the United Nations has also acknowledged the achievements of the army against terrorists in Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2015.