Govt says JuA chief Khorasani’s killing in drone strike not confirmed yet


–Defence secy says Rs100b to be spent on new Army General Headquarters in Islamabad


ISLAMABAD: The news of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) chief Umar Khalid Khorasani’s killing in a recent US drone strike has not been confirmed yet, Defence Secretary Lt General (r) Zamirul Hassan Shah told the Senate Standing Committee on Defence on Thursday.

Earlier this month, JuA spokesman Asad Mansoor had ‘confirmed’ to foreign news organisations that Khorasani had been killed in a US drone strike along with at least nine of his associates.

Shah said that a photograph of the JuA chief which had been issued along with news of his death “was a fake”.

The secretary also said that there had been no US drone strike in Pakistani territory in the recent past.

A number of US drone attacks had been reported in the Pak-Afghan border region between Oct 16 and Oct 20. On Oct 17, after five militants were killed in a US drone strike near Kurram Agency, Pakistani officials had said that the attack had targeted militants along the Pak-Afghan border area and did not happen inside Pakistan’s territory.

During the session, the defence secretary also briefed committee members on security along the Pak-Afghan border.

He told the committee that 307 terrorist acts had been carried out in Pakistan from the Afghan border in 2017. He added that 73 Frontier Corps wings are being established at the border, whereas 29 have already been established.

The secretary, while recalling that more than 50 per cent of the territory of Afghanistan is under Taliban control, added that Pakistan desires a solution to the Afghan problem.

He told the committee that Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa had held important and successful talks with the Afghan leadership during his recent visit to Kabul.

On Oct 2, the army chief had met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani the Afghan capital. After a one-on-one meeting between Gen Bajwa and the Afghan president at the Afghan presidential palace, delegation-level talks had focused on issues related to long-term peace, cooperation against common threats, coordination between respective counter-terrorism campaigns to restrict space for non-state actors, and intelligence sharing.

The secretary also told the committee that Rs100 billion would be spent on the new General Headquarters facility in Islamabad, adding that the project will be funded by the army itself and that 500 families would have to be relocated under the project.

The project had been put on hold during the tenure of former army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani.