Anti-terror operations in Islambad to continue, says army

ISLAMABAD- The army said on Monday that counter-terrorism operations would continue till elimination of terrorism.

"The capacity of the Taliban militants to plan and execute terrorist activity has been disrupted," Military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said while talking to Dawn.

The spokesman was discussing the progress achieved in Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan and the intelligence-based operations carried out elsewhere in the country since the start of the operation on June 15.

He said the operation was "proceeding as per plan and desired targets were being achieved". But he avoided quantifying the progress achieved.

The army claims to have cleared over 80 km of main road in North Waziristan and its three major population centres - Mirali, Miramshah and Dattakhel. But importantly the much feared blowback of the military operation in the once Taliban stronghold has been avoided. Except for a couple of attacks on military installations and a few other minor strikes, terrorists have not been able to carry out any major act of violence.

Gen Bajwa said the terrorists were on the run now and they were carrying out sporadic attacks.

"They have been dislodged from their base, their command and control centre and logistic base has been destroyed, and their communication network has been smashed," he said.

Gen Bajwa avoided a direct comment on renunciation of violence by Punjabi Taliban led by Asmatullah Moavia, but there is a perception within the military that it was a result of the pressure generated by Zarb-i-Azb.

He regretted that Afghanistan was not extending commensurate cooperation.

"We have through military and diplomatic channels been asking Afghan authorities for cooperation, but they have not been forthcoming," he said.

The military claims to have eliminated over 1,000 TTP soldiers, including the second tier of the militant leadership, but says the main leaders including the group's chief Maulvi Fazlullah were based in Afghanistan.

The military spokesman specifically underscored the success of over 2,200 operations across the country that had been undertaken as part of the newly-instituted 'Integrated Security Mechanism'.

"Forty-five terrorists have been killed and 134 hardcore militants have been apprehended in these operations that were intelligence led," he said.

Asked about the groups and individuals targeted in these operations across the country, the spokesman said those having proven links with the Fata-based TTP were targeted.

Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, while speaking on Defence Day in Mirali, said that the intelligence-based operations against terrorist outfits would continue.

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