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National

April 11, 2015

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‘18,000 militants held in Operation Zarb-e-Azb’

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has apprehended more than 18,000 people belonging to various extremist organisations in just the last three months, following the Peshawar APS incident where more than 145 people, including children, were massacred, revealed Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani.
“Zarb-e-Azb focused on foreign militants, but to rid the country of the menace, the government has targeted various home grown organizations who were involved in extremism and violence,” the ambassador said.
During his visit to Texas last week, the ambassador had numerous public engagements where he explained Pakistan’s efforts to root out militancy through out the country. Speaking to The News, the ambassador maintained that the total number of arrests in this connection were more than 30,000, but “the confirmed number, I have from the government, is 18,900 so far,” Jilani said. He said such arrests include people who were engaging in hate speech or spreading material that could promote religious violence.
“Zarb-e-Azb was successful and has cleared 90 percent of the area.” The government has expanded the effort throughout the country and nabbed miscreants belonging to various jihadi organizations. The ambassador said that the whole nation was stood by the government in this endeavour against extremism and terrorism.The ambassador said that the bilateral relationship has seen many ups and downs, but the situation was better.
He said he was satisfied that relations were on a strong footing, because of the robust engagement as well as the establishment of six working groups between the two countries. “We are hopeful that by 2017, with the US cooperation, we would be able to add about 7,000MW in our national grid,” he said.
He said Pakistan was working closely with Afghanistan and the US to confront the challenges of terrorism. “We are working to stabilize Afghanistan, in order to meet challenges posed by ISIS and other extremist groups

and organisations,” he said, adding that Pakistan was also helping Afghanistan in the reconciliation process. Pakistan wants to increase trade cooperation with Afghanistan to $5 billion by 2017.

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