ISLAMABAD: It has been a year since a major operation, codenamed Zarb-e-Azb, was launched in North Waziristan Agency, the erstwhile sanctuary of homegrown militants and their foreign cohorts. The military said on Saturday it had killed 2,763 militants since the launch of the offensive a year ago, with the latest air strikes leaving 20 dead.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched on June 15 last year following a brazen attack on Karachi airport – that signalled the collapse of the government’s peace talks with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Some 837 hideouts of terrorists have been destroyed and 253 tonnes of explosives recovered so far during the operation, Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on the micro-blogging website Twitter.
He added that 347 officers and soldiers of Pakistani armed forces have embraced martyrdom (Shahadat) during the operation which also yielded 18,087 weapons, including heavy machine guns, light machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and AK-47s have also been recovered from the hideouts of terrorists.
Similarly, thousands of terrorists and their abettors have been apprehended and 218 hardcore terrorists killed in 9,000 intelligence-based operations (IBOs) in the cities, Maj Gen Bajwa said.
Significant achievements in Fata, especially in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies, have been made, he said, adding that strongholds of terrorists, their communication infrastructure and sanctuaries had largely been cleared.
The military spokesperson said the whole nation came together to eliminate terrorism from the country. The media and civil society are playing a positive role to help end the menace of terrorism, he added. The armed forces would continue operations for a terror-free Pakistan.
Maj Gen Bajwa said that due to improved security environment, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world dignitaries visited Pakistan and Zimbabwe’s cricket team also conducted a successful tour to Pakistan and played One-Day International and T20 cricket matches in Lahore. The Chinese leader, during his trip in April, had described Operation Zarb-e-Azb as a ‘game changer for peace and stability in the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2015.