Sunday, 3 April 2016

Pakistan vows to elminate all terrorists as Zarb-e-Azb enters final phase

Central Asia Online
By Zahir Shah
PESHAWAR -- Pakistani forces are approaching a final victory over terrorists, officials say.
Troops have killed more than 3,400 terrorists nationwide and cleared militants from almost 90% of North Waziristan and Khyber agencies since they launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014, the government says.
They intend to defeat terrorists decisively during the final phase of Zarb-e-Azb, which army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif announced February 24.
During his visit to the Shawal valley in North Waziristan that day, Raheel ordered the final phase to begin. It is meant to chase terrorists out of their last hide-outs in deeply forested ravines in the tribal agency and to destroy any links they still have with abettors nationwide.
Besides Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistani forces have been carrying out the counter-terrorism National Action Plan (NAP) in response to the December 2014 massacre of more than 140 children and teachers at Army Public School in Peshawar.
Zarb-e-Azb proves to be major success
Of the more than 3,400 terrorists killed since June 2014, when the army began Zarb-e-Azb, about 2,000 were killed in North Waziristan and 900 in Khyber Agency, the army says.
In those two agencies, notorious for years for lack of government authority, troops now control 89% of North Waziristan and 87% of Khyber Agency, according to the government.
During his visit to the Shawal valley, Raheel expressed his satisfaction over progress made and praised the troops' resolve to destroy the last terrorist sanctuaries.
A long list of terrorist groups have seen their networks dismantled in Pakistan, authorities say, citing the Haqqani Network, "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI).
The list of accomplishments goes on. Since June 2014, security forces have carried out 14,502 intelligence-based operations and made 23,215 arrests.
They also seized 253 metric tonnes of explosives
Thousands gave their lives
Success came only after matchless sacrifice, Raheel said.
From 2014 through March 13, 2016, 2,825 civilians and 946 security personnel were killed in Pakistan in terrorist violence, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
Since the launch of Zarb-e-Azb, 118 troops died in North Waziristan and 108 in Khyber Agency, according to the army. Four officers were killed in North Waziristan February 27, making them the first casualties in the final phase of Zarb-e-Azb.
Observers expect success
Observers are expecting success as troops invade the last bastion of terrorists in North Waziristan -- the deep, wooded ravines of the Shawal valley and the Datta Khel area.
Most foreign terrorists fled to Afghanistan after troops overran the terrorists' operational centre in Datta Khel, Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, former secretary of security for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and a Peshawar-based defence analyst, told Central Asia Online.
Terrorist hit-and-run attacks are likely to cease once troops begin securing the Afghan-Pakistani border, shah said.
"I am optimistic that major victory is in sight," he said. "Guerrilla tactics might continue ... but not a major threat."
Clearance of terrorist nests in North Waziristan soon is likely, another Peshawar defence analyst, Brig. (ret.) Haris Khan, told Central Asia Online.
However, for the complete success of Zarb-e-Azb, it is necessary to wipe out sleeper cells in the southern part of Punjab Province as well as terrorists' sources of moral, financial and logistical support, he said.
Raheel's announcement of the final and decisive phase of Zarb-e-Azb will shatter the will of terrorists and their urban sympathisers, Haris said.
Co-ordinated action in the tribal and urban areas will dislodge terrorists from their bases and constitute a real victory against terrorists, he said, adding, "Action in urban areas will shrink their sapce and disrupt their moral and economic supply lines."
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif meets soldiers in the Shawal area of North Waziristan Agency February 24. [Courtesy of Zahir Shah]

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