Boots on the ground

* Army says it has launched full-scale military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, against local and foreign terrorists hiding in North Waziristan on the directions of government

ISLAMABAD: The military launched a long-expected full-scale operation against terrorists in the North Waziristan Agency on Sunday, days after a deadly gunfight with Taliban at Karachi airport killed 38, including 10 attackers.
“On the directions of the government, armed forces of Pakistan have launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan Agency,” a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa as having said. “The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb.”
This is the third full-scale military operation launched in the militancy-plagued north western belt since 2009, following operation Raah-e-Raast and operation Raah-e-Nijaat.
“Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property. They had also paralyzed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorized the entire peace loving and patriotic local population,” the ISPR DG said.
“Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and color, along with their sanctuaries,” he said, and added, “With the support of the entire nation, and in coordination with other state institutions and law enforcement agencies, these enemies of the state will be denied space anywhere across the country. As always, armed forces of Pakistan will not hesitate in rendering any sacrifice for the motherland.”
With the launch of the military operation, a peace agreement struck between militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahdur and the government comes to an end, security officials said.
On June 6, the military command and the civilian leadership had jointly given the elders of the Wazir tribes in NWA a 15-day deadline to expel foreign militants from the area. However, deadly terror attacks from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) especially near Islamabad and at Karachi airport prompted the security forces to act even before the expiry of the deadline.
The military had formally decided to launch operation in the tribal region at the 72 Formation Commanders Conference chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif Wednesday last.
Military sources said the army chief is directly monitoring the military operation. Reportedly, a monitoring room has been set up at the General Headquarters (GHQ) whose functioning is being overseen by Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lieutenant-General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad, under the direct supervision of the COAS. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7th Infantry Division Major-General Zafullah Khan has been directed to brief Peshawar corps commander and the CGS on ‘minute-to-minute’ operational updates. The two generals will give final update to the army chief on the developments involving the operation. The sources said that Pakistan Army is leading the operation and its paramilitary arm Frontier Corps (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) are part of the operation for ground reinforcements and aerial assaults.

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