Army chief General Raheel Sharif said on Wednesday the troops will remain in the tribal areas until terrorism is eradicated from the region. “Having paid the price for [our] operational successes, terrorists will never be allowed to return, and the army will not go back till the job is fully done,” he said during a visit to South Waziristan Agency.
South Waziristan, the erstwhile stronghold of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, was purged of terrorists as a result of a military operation, codenamed Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation), in 2009. Another military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, has been ongoing in neighbouring North Waziristan Agency since mid-June, 2014.
Gen Raheel inaugurated multiple projects in South Waziristan as part of a post-operation comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
These projects include the state-of-the-art Wana Cadet College building funded by the United Arab Emirates. The college will take some 500 students from Waziristan and other tribal regions, and will be comparable to the country’s best cadet colleges, the ISPR said. “The initiative will go a great length in propelling the local youth into professional colleges and changing lives of their families,” it added.
The army chief also commissioned a 132 KVA grid station and a 54km transmission line at Wana, the agency headquarters of South Waziristan, to meet the locals’ long standing demand for modern power infrastructure.
Addressing to a large gathering of tribesmen on the occasion, Gen Raheel said: “These development projects will improve quality of life of the common people, create job opportunities and usher this area into economic prosperity, which is our main objective.”
He also visited Dera Ismail Khan and inaugurated the USAID-funded 62km DI Khan-Hathala-Tank dual carriage road as part of the 705km Central Trade Corridor linking this region with Afghanistan. The road recently constructed by the Frontier Works Organisation will reduce travel time between the two cities from four hours to 40 minutes.
Gen Raheel assured the locals the rehabilitation plan would be fully executed and the temporarily displaced persons would return to a better, much more developed region.
The army chief also said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was in its final stage of clearing out few leftover pockets of militants. “The Pakistan Army, with the support of the entire nation, has successfully evicted terrorists from the area,” he said.
Gen Raheel appreciated the support of the tribal brethren in combating terrorism and acknowledged their sacrifices in the war against terrorism. He urged the tribesmen to continue supporting security and rehabilitation operations to achieve the objective of enduring peace and prosperity in these areas.
The tribal elders thanked the army chief for fulfilling the promises made to them.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2015.
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