MINGORA: The Pakistan Army on Monday formally handed administrative powers, including security, to the district administration of Swat.
The handing over ceremony was held at the Saidu Sharif Airport. It was attended by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Nazeer Ahmad Butt, provincial ministers and local elected representatives.
On the occasion, Brig Naseem Anwar handed over the civilian powers to Commissioner Malakand Division Zaheer-ul-Islam. The security powers are now the responsibility of the district police officer, Swat.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said it is a great day in the history of Swat. He said a decade ago, the terrorists had captured the Swat Valley and spread terror. "Hailing from scenic and beautiful Swat, I am witness to the tyranny and barbarism of the terrorists in our district. It was a black spot in the history of Swat as our innocent people were terrorised by the militants. However, the Pakistan Army in collaboration with police, paramilitary forces and the locals fought the war with gallantry and determination and eradicated the menace from the entire valley," the chief minister recalled.
He said the terrorists had destroyed educational institutions and destroyed the socio-economic activities in Swat. "Today with the grace of Almighty Allah, the locals are living a peaceful life," he added. He said the local civil administration and police are now fully prepared and trained with the active cooperation of the army.
"The provincial government has launched a number of projects for the development of Swat and welfare of the people," he said. He added that efforts would be made to further streamline the civil administration and law-enforcement agencies.
Speaking at the ceremony, Lt Gen Nazeer Ahmad Butt said peace has returned to Swat and the journey to the path of progress would continue. "From now on, the civil administration and police will be responsible for security," he added.
The corps commander said the Pakistan Army would remain vigilant in the face of threats. "Terrorists are still trying to launch attacks from across the border," he said. He added the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is being fortified with fencing.
"The people of Swat stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the military to defeat the terrorists," the General Officer Commanding Major General Khalid Saeed said in his remarks. "After the restoration of peace, the army also took an active part in rehabilitation work," he added.
It may be added that the military was given powers to restore peace in the district under Article 245 of the Constitution in 2007 after the writ of the state was challenged by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Swat chief Fazlullah.
Because of the deteriorating law and order situation in 2009, about 2.5 million people fled their homes as the army prepared to launch an offensive against the militants. The Pakistan People's Party and Awami National Party's coalition government ordered the military operation in Swat. The military first launched the Operation Rah-e-Haq and then the much bigger Operation Rah-e-Rast.
The local population fully supported the operation in which 300 soldiers, 150 paramilitary FC men and 200 policemen were martyred. In the war against terrorism, more than 3,000 civilians from Swat also lost their lives.
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