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March 17,2018

COAS makes conditional offer to militants

Ashrafuddin Pirzada

LANDIKOTAL: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday said that Pakistan had defeated terrorism and would forgive the Pakistani militants if they laid down arms and pledged not to challenge the writ of the state.

The army chief was speaking at a jirga of tribal elders held at the Landikotal army garrison. Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmad Butt, Frontier Corps Inspector General Major General Wasim Ashraf, Political Agent of Khyber Agency Captain (retd) Khalid Mehmood, assistant political agents of Bara, Landikotal and Jamrud and a large number of tribal elders, former parliamentarians and civil and military officials were present on the occasion.

General Bajwa said that they were about to reach a conclusion with the Afghan government to trace the militants across the border in Afghanistan. He said the government had decided to announce general amnesty for the militants hiding in Afghanistan if they renounced violence.

He said the tribal people should cooperate with the law-enforcing agencies and security forces to arrest the facilitators of the militants attacking the government installations. He said the Pakistan Army was committed to maintaining peace in the country.

He added that militancy had been rooted out and mega development projects would be launched in Fata to address the problems of the tribal people. Regarding the future status of Fata, General Bajwa said the Pakistan Army would support the decision of the majority of tribal people and accept what they wanted.

He added that dialogue of those in favour of Fata's merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and those opposed to it would be facilitated to settle this issue. The army chief said Pakistan had cordial relations with the Afghan government and it had offered its support for bringing peace in Afghanistan. He pointed out that Pakistan rendered sacrifices for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

Answering the questions of tribal elders, General Bajwa said they had allocated Rs1.5 billion in the army budget and this amount would be used for the uplift of Fata. He said Afghan citizens were their Muslim brothers and Pakistan wanted to enhance trade relations with Afghanistan.

The COAS said the tribal people rendered enormous sacrifices in the fight against militancy and this would be remembered in the history of Pakistan. He directed the Frontier Corps Inspector General to report to him about the development projects in Fata.

Regarding the tragic death of Naqeebullah Mehsud, the army chief said the culprit would be brought to justice. He said the Pakistan Army's sympathies were with the family of Naqeebullah Mehsud.

General Bajwa said fencing work on 500 kilometers on the Pak-Afghan border would soon be completed and this would help block the movement of terrorists. He said security forces were closely monitoring the movement of suspects and drug peddlers across the Pak-Afghan border.

He said the border management at Torkham has been done, adding this would facilitate passengers who were travelling legally from and to Pakistan. He said Pakistani citizens had blood relations with the Afghan nationals and they would be facilitated to cross the border.

The army chief warned the Pakistani Taliban who were hiding in Afghanistan that no terrorist would be spared. He said a jirga of Pakistani and Afghan elders would be convened to develop a consensus over common issues.

Former federal minister Malik Waris Khan Afridi, former senator Muhammad Shah Afridi, Awami National Party leader Darya Khan Zakhakhel, Malik Khalid Khan, Malik Abdur Razzaq Afridi, Malik Pervez Shinwari and Malik Nadim Afridi also spoke on the occasion.

In the Khyber Agency, the COAS saw progress on fencing along the Pak-Afghan border. The COAS interacted with the troops and tribal elders. He hailed their sacrifices for peace and for their full support behind efforts of security forces. He assured them that ongoing consolidation efforts shall take the current gains towards enduring peace and stability.

Ealrlier, General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the Corps Headquarters, Peshawar. The COAS was given a detailed briefing on security situation in Fata/KP and progress on the Operation Raddul Fasaad, return of TDPs and development works.


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