- ISPR DG says there will be no discrimination among terrorist groups as Operation Zarb-e-Azb gets underway in NWA
- Gen Bajwa says ‘this is the beginning of the end of terrorism in Pakistan’
- Says Operation Zarb-e-Azb executed after approval by political leadership
- Afghan forces yet to take action against Taliban sanctuaries in Kunar and Nuristan provinces
- Ground troops consolidating positions in Miranshah Bazaar
The Pakistan Army for the first time announced that the Haqqani Network of Afghan Taliban in North Waziristan Agency is also a target of the current military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’.
“For the military, there will be no discrimination among Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) groups or Haqqani Network. All terror groups are going to be eliminated,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asim Bajwa told a press briefing at the General Headquarters.
Gen Bajwa brushed aside the notion that the army was facilitating certain militant groups in the region, adding that there will be no discrimination in the operation and anyone who challenges the writ of the state will be taken to task. “This is the beginning of the end of terrorism in Pakistan,” the DG ISPR added.
He also denied that the operation was launched without political approval. “The operation was launched after a decision was taken by the political leadership,” he said. The army spokesman said that North Waziristan had become an epicentre of terrorism as suicide attackers had struck the people and sensitive installations across the country. “All terrorist attacks being carried out in Pakistan were being planned in NWA,” he said.
Gen Bajwa said that so far 327 terrorists and 10 security personnel have been killed in the operation, adding that intelligence reports had confirmed the presence of a large number of Uzbeks and other foreign terrorists in North Waziristan “but they will all be wiped out”.
“The Pakistan Army has requested the Afghan military to take action against terrorist hideouts in Kunar and Nuristan, but so far there has been no action taken,” he said.
The ISPR spokesman said it is solely a Pakistan Army operation and not a joint Pak-US military offensive, adding that Pakistani security forces are capable of doing such an operation.
BOOTS ON GROUND:
Meanwhile in North Waziristan on Thursday, ground troops were moved in to Miranshah Bazaar as tanks and artillery continued to pound militant hideouts in and around the bazaar.
Sources said that after weakening the targets with air assaults, security forces were now moving into the built area and clearing hideouts. The officials said that security forces were also consolidating the positions in and around Miranshah Bazaar. The areas controlled by Uzbek terrorists, including Machis Camp, have already been swept and combed by the army, they added.
The official sources also said that the ground offensive in Miranshah started at 6am and would continue.
The military operation named ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ was initiated in the North Waziristan region in June. Earlier a ground assault was delayed due to the issues that cropped up during evacuation of internally displaced people (IDPs).
Gen Bajwa told the briefing that so far 466,000 people have moved into the neighbouring areas of Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan and all had been registered at IDPs camps. He said that most of the people had sought refuge with their relatives per local tradition.
He also confirmed that around 400 families had entered Afghanistan – making it the largest movement of the IDPs in the recent past. He said that any civilians, who are still in the agency, could still be evacuated.