The writer works as a Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune, and has a focus on human rights, gender and peace-building
The women of Pakistan, it seems, have found the reason as to why they were created – they were created to make, buy, sell, maintain, wear, show and love clothes. PHOTO: STOCK
Every evening after iftar they storm the streets in flocks, like contingent troops, with one and only one purpose alone – they want clothes, clothes and more clothes. The women of Pakistan, it seems, have found the reason as to why they were created – they were created to make, buy, sell, maintain, wear, show and love clothes.
And this sad obsession is across the board.
From lower middle income groups to the elite, they spend big chunks of their valuable time in bazaars and malls, and unanimously spend more than they afford. And Eid season sees this obsessive compulsive behaviour at its peak.
But then, can we really blame them?
At every turn of the head are billboards of women; beautiful, stick thin, photo shopped women, wearing dresses to kill.
The biggest viewership of Pakistan’s thriving morning show industry is women. Millions of Pakistani women, every morning, lap up the mostly unintelligent and fake conversations on these shows and take them as gospel truth. They also absorb each and every attitude and trend being presented by the baajis and even the bhaiyyas who are the hosts. Thus, they have started believing in a culture of collective gushing and adulation of people on the basis of what they wear, not who they are.
If they can afford the exact thing the host is wearing (even though hers might is most probably a borrowed dress – one that she will never wear again), they will get it from the same designer. If not, the women will use every ion of creativity God has given them to dojugaar and copy the design, almost flawlessly.
Women from the elite have their own issues. They are also obsessed with clothes. Only, the taste (acquired) and the social circles are different. They will kill themselves over clothes that are original, exclusive, subtle and elegant. They may not be as tacky as others and may look down upon other women, and ridicule their showy dress sense, but eventually they are equally consumed with the idea of the “I am what I wear” syndrome.
The only difference is, the elite do it in more innovative ways. They make politically and socially correct statements with their clothes if they are the activist types and use pure cottons, vegetable dyes and the works. If the social circle involves kitty parties and the trophy wives club, the style changes considerably.
Women see, breathe and dream clothes. It is no wonder then that not only is there a never ending demand for clothes, but also an incessant chain of supply in the form of dress ‘designers’; couture designers who have actually studied the art and also those who become designers by default – because… well it comes naturally to them after thinking about clothes 28 out of 24 hours a day. And then there are those who don’t really design anything but just have a darzi at home in the basement.
The problem is not with clothes. The problem is with the shift in values that is coming with it. Slowly but surely it is becoming such a big priority for women that the way they see themselves and others is changing.
I noticed this the other day when I caught myself not saying “you look very nice in this dress” to a friend, but saying “your dress is very nice”. The person was taken away from my compliment.
All that remained was the dress.
If women start viewing themselves in light of the praise their dresses get, they will continue to be preoccupied with their appearance. And this is an expensive preoccupation as well as time-consuming. I know families where a driver is employed for the sole purpose of taking baaji toGhousia market, Aashiyana and Raabi Centre.
Wardrobes are so important to females that in order to make unnecessary clothes that will keep hanging in their closets, untouched for a year, they want to earn and for that, voila, they become dress designers.
Being engrossed with clothes to a disturbing extent is an attitude that other women observe. If they cannot afford to do the same, there is an underlying resentment and unhealthy sense of competition in society. The more we raise the bar of our wardrobes, the more the economic disparity in our society.
While dressing well and looking good is actually an admirable thing, anything that crosses limits becomes toxic. Overdoing one thing means you will end up under-doing something equally or more important. The time one could spend reading, doing some form of community service, or spending unhurried moments with one’s family is spent getting exhausted, carrying bags and bags of stitched and unstitched fabric, and still worrying whether everyone will like it or not.
Women are naturally very good at time-management. And Pakistani women are an amazing potential work force for Pakistan. They are talented, intelligent and hardworking. If the time they put into clothes is utilised for other more productive things, it would make Pakistan a much happier place.
The spirit of Ramazan and then Eidul Fitr is all about taking away materialism from our hearts and reviving a culture of simplicity, giving and sharing.
It may be time to sit back and rethink what Eid is all about.
She worked at Aaj TV till 2008, freelances currently for Express Tribune and Dawn and is associated with a television commercial production company.
This is how Eid is this year for the Muslims residing in Gaza – full of bloodshed and tragedy. PHOTO: AFP
Can you imagine how it feels to see a dear one killed in front of your eyes, knowing that it is supposedly a happy day, a festive day? How does it feel to lose a beloved on or right before Eid? I can’t even imagine the pain.
Unfortunately, the feeling is not like a moment in a dream which simply vanishes during disrupted sleep. It’s far more permanent. Countless days of just this – either being killed or seeing your loved ones die. The recurring situation seems to have no end.
While sitting on the stairs outside our house during a calm and peaceful summer evening in Toronto, I felt a deep chilling wave inside of me when I saw tears in his dark green eyes. He was recalling how he used to play, eat and live with them during his childhood. They studied and worked together for a long time afterwards.
This was Ebraheem, a qualified banker who recently moved to Canada to provide his daughters better education prospects and safety. He was a former resident of Gaza.
He was upset and emotionally consumed because a close relative’s entire family of 18 people had been killed in the recent attacks. Small, uninterrupted tears filled his eyes while he sipped on Turkish coffee after the last iftar of the year. Monday was Eid but after listening to his story, I had lost my sense of excitement for the day.
This is how Eid is this year for the Muslims residing in Gaza – full of bloodshed and tragedy. Even though an immediate ceasefire has been called due to the occurrence of Eid, traces of devastation will continue to haunt the ones living in camps in Gaza. On the other hand, for those who are fighting for their lives in hospitals with meagre resources, it’s absolutely dreadful.
Zainab, Ebraheem’s wife who is an educationist, said,
“It’s been a norm; every two years, Zionist-dominated extremist Israeli government manipulates an excuse to disrupt life in Palestine.”
Is this downright disruption or something more than that?
“Israeli intelligence officials used gag orders in recent weeks to stifle reporting on the initial investigations into both the abduction and the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem.”
Gaza is a small and densely populated region where houses and residential buildings are at a distance of not more than few meters from each other.
Zainab went on explaining,
“Therefore, when an air strike hits any one of the buildings, it means there is no chance of the neighbouring buildings and its occupants to stay safe. They hit a small rocket which is a warning and you count for 57 seconds for another expected major rocket to come your way and demolish the buildings completely. This 57 seconds time window is all the helpless residents of the area have to find shelter for themselves.”
Zainab surfed through her news feed and showed me videos that were sent to her by her acquaintances from Gaza that show how targets were being executed. She counted 57 on her fingers in Arabic and after the strike she couldn’t speak for another minute.
“Israeli aircrafts are targeting houses in the Gaza Strip as never before, firing precision-guided missiles into living rooms. They have killed at least five known militants with the tactic — but they appear to have killed more civilians, including a growing number of women and children.
Israeli defence officials say their mission is not only to stop Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip from firing ever-more-powerful rockets deeper into Israel, as they did on Wednesday, but also to weaken Hamas by killing its commanders.”
As Gazans, under humanitarian truce, take respite from the bombardments that have been an everyday routine during Ramazan for around 19 days, Ebraheem spoke to his family via Skype.
After that, he added while talking to me that,
“Eid is rare in Palestine, and this time, my family back home have to make through it alive.”
Although his immediate family is safe in Gaza, he is unnerved by the situation there. He explained that his mother, brothers, their wives and kids have fled from their home in the northern part of Gaza to an overcrowded UN-run school. More than 70 people are residing in the facility, which has no generator for electricity and no water to take a shower with – just one toilet for all the people present there. Dwindling fuel supplies and damage to the power grid from the fighting has left the city with just an hour or two of electricity a day.
Saddened with grief, Zainab expresses her sorrow regarding Eid in Gaza by saying,
“With so much death, destruction and despair, there’s no Eid for Gaza this year.”
Every two years, a war is waged on Palestinian civilians, killing people ranging from infants to 80-year-olds. It’s been happening for generations. Whatever has been developed or achieved in the name of peace, strength and growth, fizzles out, while Israeli authorities call it a deflating and demoralising attempt to weaken Hamas and other militant groups.
Gaza has enclosed borders where people have no opportunity to exchange knowledge and gain momentum for economic growth in the country. Israel controls water and electricity, thus severe shortage prevails and agricultural lands are under occupation. They have the lowest employment ranking in the world, and to add on to the complications, the Palestinian government owes Israel a huge debt.
Does this seem like a death trap to anyone else?
Zainab went on to elaborate on Palestine’s current refugee situation by saying,
“At the moment, when war is at its peak, the Egyptian government has sealed its border, not allowing the Palestinian refugees to enter their land and neither are they allowing rescue organisations from the other side to help the war trodden people; it’s their (Gazans) only connection to the world.”
While correcting me on the word ‘refugee’, she says,
“We are not refugees; it’s our land which has been occupied by shutting it down for its natives. We are the displaced people. My father was five-years-old when he had to leave occupied Palestine, and now 90% of the people are displaced. We will get our land back soon.”
Zainab’s only hope lies in true leadership. She thinks that only selfless leadership, for both Palestine and Israel, can help resolve the long disputed issue. People have lost hope as they need a leader who has no lust for money, authority and benefits for his party, and rather someone who believes in the benefits of the common people.
In Israel, only a non-extremist and non-Zionist leader can be their ray of hope. Knesset members seem a bit divided over killing of innocent people and occupation of a state that does not belong to them. They believe that some of the occupied land should be conferred back to Palestine.
“History shows that any occupation doesn’t last forever.”
Different pictures of Prophet Younus's (AS) shrine in Iraq that was destroyed by the Islamic State.
A recent news story left me utterly shocked and angry. Yesterday, the Islamic State (formerly known as the ISIS), a militant outfit, blew up and levelled one of the most well known and revered shrines in Mosul, Iraq – the resting place ofProphet Younus (AS). The militants blew up the shrine in front of a large number of people.
The Islamic State (IS) has razed 15 mosques so far, belonging to both Sunni and Shia sects and, interestingly, this recent destruction of Prophet Younus’s (AS) shrine was done under the supervision of a proclaimed ‘caliph’.
In the middle of all this chaos, my questions are simple.
What sort of a caliphate is this that believes in annihilating our prophets’ resting places?
Is this what Islam preaches?
What twisted version of Islam does the ISIS follow when it blows up holy places and destroys nearly 30 shrines?
It is all beyond my understanding.
The IS aims to bring forward an anti-western political doctrine. Following a hard-lined extremist ideology, similar to that of the al Qaeda, and complying with the global jihadist principles, it is determined to establish an Islamic state of its own that will follow radical religious interpretation as deemed fit by the IS. Due to the sheer brutality of the IS, al Qaeda severed all ties with the rogue establishment in 2014.
After the joint militant rebellion in Syria halted, mainly due to inter-militant fights, the then so-called ISIS faced intense opposition from its allies, mainly al Nusra and the free Syrian army; limiting the ISIS’s control only to the borders of Syria.
In the beginning of April 2013, however, the ISIS militia made a fierce comeback, subjugating large parts of northern Syria, affecting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to an extent that they labelled the ISIS the strongest militant group in the country. Not only Syria, the bloody group left its mark in Turkey as well, carrying out the deadliest act of terrorism ever to take place on Turkish soil.
Now the ISIS exploited the weakness of the Iraqi army and was quick to occupy Iraq’s northern lands. Call it the incompetency of the Iraqi civilian government or the corruption rampant amongst Iraqi Army generals, but the bottom line is, Iraq fell prey to such a group due to its executives’ ineptness. The prime minister as well as different influential clerics urged the nation to take up arms against the outfit, causing severe civilian unrest, allowing critics to label this a major failure on the governments’ part.
ISIS was on the rise, though they were unable to reach Baghdad, they conquered enough to call their occupied land an independent state, the Islamic state, and create a self-proclaimed caliphate of their own. But if the ISIS was a true representative of Islamic ideology, it would’ve been enraged at the atrocities being committed in Gaza. It would have confronted the Zionists to free Palestine from their occupation. Yet they remain silent.
The Gaza issue seems to have preoccupied Pakistani minds but what our people seem to have forgotten is that they are still being targeted – every now and then – not by the Jews but byradical Muslim militants. Are we so naïve that are willing to ignore the constant threat that lingers around us? Has our emotions overridden our rationale? Yes, Israel’s violation of human rights in Palestine should be strongly condemned, but is it not more important to save your land first so that you may be in a position to help those in need?
Pakistan is already infected with the disease of terrorism; the Taliban, al Qaeda, Jundullah, all operate here. With the operation, the Pakistani government has taken a bold step to fight the insurgency, but this is happening without an effective strategy to deal with the internally displaced people. The Pakistani army might be able to carry out the operation successfully, but the question is, is extremist insurgency the result of only a group of wild, militarily trained, blood thirsty individuals or is it the result of a provocative ideology? An ideology so powerful it promises the establishment utopia once the motives are fulfilled? This ideology aims to establish the promised land of Khorasan, the land which, when established, will mark the beginning of the supposed Islamic glory.
In recent years, al Qaeda has become weaker and the Pakistani Taliban has been disowned by the Afghan Taliban, but does this make our work any easier? Are we finally moving towards the end of extremism in this region? Even if this holds true, the rise of the ISIS poses a big threat to these ideas.
The Pakistani government’s inactive response to foreign militants has allowed them to grow, spread their views and expand their ideologies within the country. So much so, that they’ve been able to make a state within a state in the tribal areas of Pakistan, questioning and successfully undermining the government’s writ and authority in those regions.
Even as the military counteraction is in progress, the success of the ISIS can serve as a motivational boost to the militants fighting the army. Tensions between the al Qaeda and ISIS seem to be of a temporary nature. Sooner or later, the socio-political narrative that influences both these groups will cause them to reconcile their positions, and a unified al Qaeda-ISIS with a common agenda is a horrifying thought indeed.
As Pakistan has seen itself, militants do develop alliances with other militant groups to serve a joint purpose. The rise of the ISIS can serve as inspiration for militant groups or even stimulate them to form an alliance. The militias in Pakistan can serve as an ally of the ISIS and unless it is stopped, it won’t be long before the ISIS comes around knocking on Pakistan’s door – and eventually breaking it down.
The army’s operation in North Waziristan is aimed to destroy the militants’ strategic and operational ‘headquarters’. The degree of success of the Pakistan army depends on the level of back up the government provides. Reportedly, some of the militants have escaped into South Waziristan and the government has not done anything much to give the army a helping hand.
Government think tanks have to come up with ways to limit the spread of extremist narratives within the country. This malignant ideology has to be resisted, uprooted and removed. Islam is way more broad-minded and progressive, even in its fundamentals, than portrayed by these militant groups.
The misconception, misinterpretation, misplacement or rather cherry picking of religious narratives out of their contexts by pseudo-ulemas have dented the true Islamic ideology as a whole. Pakistan, as a people, has become a confused lot due to which people are unable to speak out against these militant outfits with full certainty. The masses still seem to have a soft corner for these outfits because of the manipulative facade they have disseminated; the facade that they are reviving and spreading Islam. The Islam they plan to ‘revive’ has little resemblance to the actual religion.
The government’s challenge is to provide the nation with a clear narrative, explain to them the dangers caused by these militant groups to our existence as a progressive nation and urge them to stand united against them.
Anti-Israel protesters rally across France, defying ban imposed after synagogue clash
Thousands march through French cities in protest of Israeli operation in Gaza Strip; French president says will not allow violence to spill over into France.
Man with Palestinian flag placard, as protesters gather in Paris, France, July 19, 2014.Photo by AFP
REUTERS - Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters marched in French cities on Saturday to condemn violence in Gaza,defying a ban imposed after demonstrators marched on two synagogues in Paris last weekend and clashed with riot police.
French President Francois Hollande said he understood emotional responses to the killing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a flare-up of hostilities with Israel but would not allow violence to spill over into France.
"That's why I asked the interior minister, after an investigation, to ensure that such protests would not take place," he told journalists during a visit to Chad.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve justified bans in Paris, the Sarcelles suburb and the Mediterranean city of Nice by saying the security risk was too great, prompting outrage from left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups.
He had asked police in cities to examine security risks city by city and, where necessary, to issue ban orders.
The far-left New Anticapitalist Party, an organizer of last Sunday's rally and the banned one in Paris, urged protesters in Paris to defy the ban, prompting police to issue a warning.
"Those who do not respect the ban, in support of protests or against them, face the risk of being stopped, arrested and handed over to the courts," Paris police said in a statement.
However, large crowds defied the warning and gathered in the capital chanting "Israel, assassin" in front of police barricades. Rallies were also held in more than a dozen other cities, from Lille in the north to Marseille in the South.
"This ban on demonstrations, which was decided at the last minute, actually increases the risk of public disorder," the Greens Party said in a statement. "It's a first in Europe."
Elsewhere in Europe, a man set off a security alert in Geneva when he stopped a tram to retrieve bags that included a book with a radical Islamist image in it, police said, at the same time as some 300 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in front of the UN's European headquarters.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has contributed to growing tensions between France's Muslim and Jewish populations, both of which are the largest in Europe.
In the first three months of 2014 more Jews left France for Israel than at any other time since the Jewish state was created in 1948, with many citing rising anti-Semitism as a factor.
In a diplomatic overture from the Narendra Modi government, supply of Liquefied Natural Gas to Pakistan, which is reeling under a severe shortage, has been exempted from basic customs duty. This waiver could finally lead to a revival of the proposal to supply LNG to Pakistan. The move, which could be touted as part of Modi’s vision of having networks of various types across South Asia, is an indication of the government’s inclination to encourage trade ties with Pakistan.
“Exemption from basic customs duty is being granted on re-gasified LNG for supply to Pakistan,” said the Union Budget 2014-15 presented by Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Parliament on Thursday. LNG imports currently attract a duty of five per cent
Both Indian and Pakistani officials had been in talks for supplying LNG across the two Punjabs. The proposal was for GAIL to construct a pipeline on the Indian side till the Wagah border, while Pakistan would build another 30 km of pipelines to inject gas into its network.
As per Pakistani media reports, the talks fell apart over pricing issue in March, as India had quoted a price which Pakistan considered unfeasible. However, at that time, Indian officials had pointed out that New Delhi could bring down the price by waiving off taxes on LNG.
Pakistan is suffering from an extreme gas shortfall of over 2 billion cubic feet a day, which has led to the shutting down of several industrial establishments. Pakistan’s initial plan was to import 200 million cubic feet of gas per day, with provision to ramp up the supply later.
The energy corridor and provision for most-favoured nation category for India could very well be the engine to bring both sides together.
Meanwhile, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said on Thursday that foreign secretaries will be meeting ‘in not very distant future’. However, no dates have been set yet.
400 terrorists have been killed while 130 have been injured in the operation so far.
Internally displaced persons fleeing a military operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency carry relief supplies received from a World Food Programme (WFP) distribution point in the neighbouring town of Bannu on June 27, 2014. PHOTO: AFP
RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD / BANNU / PESHAWAR / KARACHI / MIRAMSHAH: After a long period of speculation, which also included attempts at peace talks, Pakistan on June 15 launched a military operation against militants in the troubled North Waziristan agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
On its 15th day, a new phase of the offensive began, with the military launching a ground operation in Miramshah – the main town of North Waziristan.
As the Pakistan Army embarks on this critical mission, get all the updates of the operation, code-named Zarb-e-Azb, here.
All stories relating to Zarb-e-Azb can be found on this trend page as well.
Below is an interactive Google map of North Waziristan, which follows the Zarb-e-Azab Operation, and will be updated as information flows in. Navigate military strikes and areas of influence from the key on the left. To get details of individual attacks, hover over the pins and click them. Zoom in for a closer look, change the display type or switch extra layers off . The yellow pins mark recent drone strikes that have occurred in the region, while blue pins mark suicide attacks.
July 11, 2:14pm
The registration of IDPs continued in Peshawar for a fifth day, Express News reported.
Below is a video of one of the ammunition factories seized by Pakistan Army during the military operation.
July 10, 7:11pm
Pakistan reiterated on Thursday that the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan was an internal matter and it had not asked for any international assistance.
“We have very clear instructions from the prime minister [to not seek external assistance],” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said during her weekly press briefing.
The ISPR released a photo on Thursday of Chairman Fauji Foundation Lieutenant General (retd) Muhammad Mustafa Khan presenting a cheque of Rs150 million to the COAS at the General Headquarters yesterday for the IDPs of the North Waziristan agency.
Militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur will be immediately eliminated if spotted, said Major General Zafarullah Khan, the general officer commanding 7th infantry division Miramshah, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Chaudhry Abdul Majeed presented a cheque of Rs40 million to Chief of Army Staff General Raheel on behalf of people of the people of AJK for the internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Majeed reaffirmed full support of the people of AJK for the IDPs and armed forces.
Chairman Fauji Foundation Lieutenant General (retd) Muhammad Mustafa Khan also presented a cheque of Rs150 million to the COAS at the General Headquarters today.
UN Refugee Agency said Pakistani families that migrated to Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces following the military operation in North Waziristan are urgently in need of food, APP reported.
July 7, 5:30pm
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif visited troops on the front lines in North Waziristan today, and lauded them for their courage, dedication and high state of morale, according to an ISPR press release.
Expressing his satisfaction with the ongoing operation so far, he commended the entire chain of command for their determined efforts in planning, preparation, mobilisation and execution of the operation.
The army chief reiterated emphasis on the need to eliminate all foreign and local terrorists.
Paying tribute to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) for their sacrifices to restore writ of the state, COAS acknowledged the national spirit and support forthcoming for them from across the country.
The registration of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who migrated from North Waziristan due to the military operation against terrorists, started in Peshawar on Monday.
Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) spokesperson told APP that a registration centre has been set up at Government College of Commerce and Management Sciences No 2, where registration of IDPs will continue till 3pm everyday.
Express News screengrabs showing IDPs waiting to get registered in Peshawar.
July 6, 8:50pm
The United States has extended an assistance of $31 million, while the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) has released $20.5 million for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of North Wazirstan on humanitarian grounds.
According to a detailed report submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, so far 572,529 IDPs, belonging to 44,633 families, have been registered since the beginning of the Zarb-e-Azb operation in mid June, 2014.
Referring to IDPs, DG ISPR on twitter requested people to ‘bring back their smiles’:
Jet planes bombed hideouts of suspected militants in Miramshah, Express News reported, quoting ISPR.
Several suspected foreign militants – mostly Uzbeks – reportedly died in the air strikes that took place early on Saturday morning, according to an ISPR press release.
Five hideouts, as well as a large amount of weapons, were destroyed in the latest bombing, the statement added.
A Pakistan Army soldier was killed in an IED explosion during a search operation this morning, the press release further stated.
July 4, 11:24pm
A Pakistan Army soldier was killed in Miramshah on Friday during a search operation.
Niak Fiaz Mohammad, of Mansehra, was killed when an IED exploded during the search operation.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. July 4, 8:24pm
The Economic Coordination Committee of the government has approved release of 60,000 metric tonnes of wheat for distribution among IDPs. A committee has been formed under the chairmanship of Minister for SAFRON Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch to work out a distribution mechanism.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed relevant authorities to speed up relief efforts. “For us helping our people displaced because of Zarb-e-Azb is number one issue and we will do our level best to help them.”
Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch told the prime minister that so far 566,000 IDPs have been registered and that cash distribution will start from July 8, 2014, Radio Pakistanreported.
However, the PDMA has said that 576,929 IDPs have been registered at camps in Bannu. In the meanwhile, the FDMA says it has distributed Rs329.568 million among 27,668 registered IDPs so far.
ISPR spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted that an IED factory was discovered during a search operation in Miramshah.
So far in the operation, four IED factories have been discovered and another has been destroyed during air strikes.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
July 3, 8:15pm
Bodies of seven suspected militants were recovered in Darpa Khel area of Mirali.
According to a security official, security forces advanced from Mirali and Miramshah Bazaar towards the outskirts of the agency after destroying three militant hideouts in Mirali. He added that one of the destroyed hideouts belonged to foreign militants.
July 3, 6:25pm The military provided details of the meeting with Afghan defence and intelligence officials in a press release.
The Pakistan Army raised the issue of “terrorist sanctuaries” in eastern Kunar and Nuristan provinces in Afghanistan and attacks on Pakistani border villages and posts from those sanctuaries with top Afghan defence and intelligence officials on Thursday, the military said.
Senior Pakistani and Afghan defence and intelligence officials on Thursday opened key talks on security issues, focusing on border management and cooperation in the current major military operation in North Waziristan, officials of the two countries said.
The meeting is seen as crucial at a time when Islamabad is anxious to seek Afghan cooperation to boost security on the border to stop fleeing militants from crossing the border.
In a veiled reference to former DG ISPR Athar Abbas’ statement two days go, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said that the Pakistan Army is fighting a war for the future of Pakistan, and retired army officials should not make the military operation a point of dispute through their statements, Express News reported.
He said that army officials should be careful when making statements during a time that is crucial for the country.
Speaking to media outside the National Assembly in Islamabad, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said, “we will search the corners of the country to eliminate terrorists from Pakistan.”
He stated that a successful operation against terrorists has been going on in Karachi for quite some time, adding that measures have been taken to ensure that Karachi does not suffer the blowback of the operation in North Waziristan.
The army reiterated on Tuesday its longstanding demand of the Afghan government to dismantle sanctuaries of the Pakistani Taliban leadership on its side of the border for the success of the ongoing military offensive in North Waziristan.
“We expect Afghan security forces will either eliminate or handover Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who controls his fighters from across the border,” military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa said at a briefing for Islamabad-based foreign media.
Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Abdul Qadir Baloch said that anybody involved in terrorist activities will be eliminated irrespective of the group they belong to.
“They cannot escape,” the DG ISPR said. “It’s very clear that those left inside are only terrorists.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt to discuss the ongoing operation in North Waziristan, Express Newsreported.
Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the PM House in Islamabad. PHOTO: PID
Nawaz said that the operation will continue until all foreign and local terrorists are eliminated. Responding to claims that the army operation was started in haste, Nawaz said that this was not the case and it was initiated after careful thought and consideration. Read the full storyhere.
June 30, 9:13pm
On behalf of the Sindh Government, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah presented a cheque of Rs50 million to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in support of the IDPs in North Waziristan, according to PID.
Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah presenting a cheque of Rs50 million for North Waziristan IDPs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the PM House. PHOTO: PID
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that following the month of Ramazan’s true spirit of sacrifice, the nation should express solidarity with the internally displaced persons (IDPs) at this difficult time.
Internally displaced civilians, fleeing a military operation by Taliban militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency, buy dates at a market ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramazan in Bannu. PHOTO: AFP
Troops moved on Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan, around 9:30am, officials said, after two weeks of air strikes and artillery bombardment of insurgent targets, AFP reported.
Security officials in Miramshah told AFP troops moved on the town after six hours of artillery shelling, which began at 3:30am.
“They are using tanks and armoured vehicles for ground movement,” a security official said on condition of anonymity.
“The forces have also taken over the civil hospital in Miramshah and have destroyed four hideouts in the artillery firing,” he added.
Other security officials in Peshawar confirmed the advance.
Read the full story here.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
June 30, 12:51pm
According to an ISPR press release, 15 militants were killed as the ground offensive started today.
Three soldiers were also injured in exchange of fire, the press release stated.
Meanwhile, integrated fire of artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons is being carried out on terrorist’s concentrations in Mirali and other areas, according to ISPR.
“Since start of operation Zarbe Azb on June 15, 376 terrorists have been killed while 19 have surrendered to the security forces. 61 terrorists hideouts have been destroyed in the operation during last 15 days. 17 soldiers have embraced martyrdom in the ongoing military operation,” the statement added.
At least 16 terrorists were killed and seven militant hideouts were destroyed in the latest air strikes in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan.
ISPR claimed that an ammunition depot was also destroyed in the attack.
June 28, 10:23pm
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif said on Saturday that the army will not hesitate from any sacrifice for the defence of the country and that it was prepared to fight against the entire spectrum of threats.
Muhammad Aziz, fleeing a military operation against Taliban militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency, take cares of his new born baby boy Azb Khan at a makeshift refugee camp in Bannu. PHOTO: AFP
After the surrender of 19 terrorists so far, more terrorists may lay down arms, Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) Asim Salim Bajwa said on social media.
He stated that an effective cordon around terrorist hideouts is in place around all places in North Waziristan Agency.
Bajwa also said ration collection points have been increased to 53 across the country and 131 tons of ration have been collected and dispatched to Bannu uptil now. Read more about the relief efforts here.
IDPs receive food in Bannu on June 28, 2014 after fleeing the military operation in North Waziristan. PHOTO: AFP
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander of Miranshah, Commander Umer, was killed last night by security forces on the outskirts on Miranshah, Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (DG-ISPR) Asim Salim Bajwa said on social media.
He said that seven terrorists were killed early Saturday morning outside Miranshah. Bajwa also confirmed that 6 terrorist hideouts were destroyed last evening on the outskirts of Mirali killing 11 terrorists.
Bajwa confirmed that one prominent al Qaeda commander was also arrested. According to initial interrogation, the commander is an expert in explosives, improvised explosive devices (IED) and suicide belts.
Three terrorists were also arrested by security forces while they tried to cross Indus River near Mianwali. All crossings along the river have been sealed to keep terrorists from escaping.
Jets killed 17 militants in the latest raid on rebel hideouts, officials said on Saturday, AFP reports.
The planes bombarded hideouts in the Dargamandi and Chashma Gaon areas of North Waziristan late Friday, as aid agencies geared up relief efforts for refugees fleeing the military operation.
“Jet fighters bombarded militant hideouts, killing 17 rebels and destroying their six compounds,” a senior security official said.
A local intelligence official confirmed the militant casualties in the aerial attack.
According to AFP, nearly 370 militants and 12 security personnel have been killed in the offensive, although the number and identity of the victims are impossible to verify.
June 27, 12:20pm
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a Ramazan package worth Rs20,000 for each family of internally displaced persons (IDPs) on Friday.
The prime minister made the announcement while addressing the IDPs in Bannu. The Ramazan package is in addition to the earlier announced monthly allowance of Rs20,000 which includes Rs5,000 for non-food items and Rs3,000 for rent.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Abdul Qadir Baloch arrived in Bannu to meet the IDPs. Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif welcomed the premier as he disembarked his helicopter.
Security was beefed up in the area due to the high-profile visit.
PM Nawaz was briefed about the situation of the displaced people and steps taken to assist them. K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and K-P Governor Sardar Mehtab Abbasi were also present during the briefing.
Pakistan Army is poised to launch the much anticipated ground offensive against militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) within the next 48 hours after the near-completion of the evacuation of civilians from the troubled areas, our correspondent Kamran Yousaf report.
The Express Tribune has learnt through senior military officials that following days of air strikes, ground combat will begin anytime now.
In a press briefing to a select group of journalist, DG ISPR said the registration and evacuation process of IDPs has by and large been completed, our correspondent Kamran Yousaf reports.
At present, 466,00 IDPs have been registered, the DG ISPR said, adding that any civilians, who are still in the agency, can still be evacuated.
DG ISPR said the operation in N Waziristan is against all terrorist, including Haqqani network. He said there is a misconception that the army is facilitating certain militant groups, adding that there will be no discrimination in the operation and anyone who challenges the writ of the state will be taken to task.
“This is the beginning of the end of terrorism in Pakistan,” the DG ISPR added.
So far 327 terrorists have been killed and 45 hideouts have been destroyed in Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Ten soldiers have also been killed in the operation.
Pakistan has asked Afghanistan to take necessary measures on its side of the border to stop terrorists fleeing North Waziristan from entering Afghan territory, according to the Foreign Office.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam in her weekly briefing said the operation has been launched in North Waziristan to eliminate terrorism and it was in Afghanistan’s own interest to cooperate with Pakistan.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan to visit camps of IDPs in Bannu on June 27, Express News Islamabad bureau chief Amir Ilyas Rana reported.
The bureau chief further reported that the PTI chief has rejected the offer, saying that he has a rally in Bahawalpur.
On June 17, Imran had denounced the deadly clashes between the police and supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, and announced to hold a protest against the incident in Bahawalpur.
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Shareef will be accompanying Nawaz to the camps tomorrow.
The UAE government has announced $2.5 million for IDPs, while UNHCR has pledged to provide 16,000 tents and the same number of non-food items if needed by IDPs, said Tariq Hayat, focal person for IDPs in the ministry of States and Frontier Regions.
Additionally, the Senate of Pakistan has contributed Rs5 million to the IDPs.
DG ISPR has asked people to help IDPs. He tweeted:
June 24, 8:01pm
With 454,207 people having fled Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan, the minister of state for frontier regions (SAFRON) Abdul Qadir Baloch dispelled any notion of friction between the federal government and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government on handling internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“We’ve got a good understanding with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government,” said Baloch during a press conference on Tuesday.
The minister, tasked by the prime minister to oversee issues relating to IDPs, added that “the focal person is commissioner Bannu who comes under the K-P government, and I have no complaints from him and he has not issued any complaints either.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the provision of every possible relief to the IDPs, Radio Pakistan reported.
The premier was chairing a meeting to review the situation of IDPs in Islamabad on Tuesday, and said that the government stands by the IDPs at this hour of trial.
Federal Ministers Abdul Qadir Baloch, Pervaiz Rashid, governor Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Director general military operations and director general Inter-Services Public Relations were in attendance during the meeting.
Baloch and DG military operations briefed the premier on latest updates from the front.
Airstrikes in Mir Ali killed 27 militants, and 11 terrorist hideouts were destroyed, Express News reported quoting ISPR.
Furthermore, an arms depot of terrorists was also destroyed.
Earlier in the morning, 20 terrorists were killed in Khyber Agency.
An ISPR statement added that so far 454,207 IDPs (36,514 families) from North Waziristan Agency have been registered at the Saidgai registration point.
Six ration distribution points have also been established for the IDPs of North Waziristan Agency – three at Bannu, two at DI Khan and one in Tank, the statement added. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
June 24, 4:35pm
A suicide bomber in a car killed at least two troops in Spinwam village of North Waziristan agency.
“At least two soldiers and a civilian have embraced martyrdom,” a security official told AFP.
A military statement said that troops stopped the car suicide bomber 100 metres away from a checkpost near a hospital and the action averted major casualties.
The Ansarul Mujahideen militant group claimed responsibility, with spokesman Abu Baseer saying it was the start of a counter-offensive against the armed forces by the Taliban.
Last night the local administration imposed a curfew in North Waziristan, Express News reports.
Evacuation of IDPs has also stopped, according to security sources.
Around 450,000 IDPs have arrived in Bannu and their registration is also complete at Saidgi check post.
June 23, 7:05pm
Jet aircrafts destroyed eight terrorist hideouts around Mirali early Monday morning killing 15 terrorists.
Ten terrorists were killed separately while fleeing cordoned off areas in Spinwam and Mirali, while two soldiers also lost their lives.
Meanwhile, 414,429 IDPs have been registered so far at the Saidgai check post.
Four relief goods delivery points have been established at Bannu. Food items, medical care and cash amount as announced by the government will be distributed by the concerned civil agency among IDPs here. A field medical hospital is also being established at Bannu.
The World Food Programme on Monday began distributing aid for hundreds of thousands of people who have fled a military operation in Pakistan, as refugees clashed with authorities over delays. Read the story here.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
June 23, 11:06am
Over 100 ulema from various schools of thought declared Zarb-e-Azb, the ongoing military operation against militants in North Waziristan, as a form of jihad. You can read the complete story here.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has requested the government for an immediate release of 60,000 ton of wheat to meet emerging food demands of the IDPs.
So far, the WFP Pakistan is the only UN agency that the government has requested assistance from.
For more details, you can read the full story here.
June 22, 4:14pm
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan demands the federal government to immediately release Rs6 billion to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to help assist IDPs. He also urged the government to put the operation on hold to assist civilians fleeing North Waziristan.
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan has risen to 303,057,Radio Pakistan reported. The government is arranging 2,000 vehicles for the withdrawal of IDPs from North Waziristan.
Further, 96,000 children will be vaccinated against various diseases while 64,000 will be vaccinated against polio for the first time in the IDP camps.
Two thousand tents have been established in Bannu to accommodate those migrating from North Waziristan. However, several families are choosing to live with their relatives in Bannu, Tank, Lakki and DI Khan.
Each displaced family is being paid Rs12,000 at the time of registration. Further, on the directives of the prime minister, each family is to be provided food assistance worth Rs7,000, being arranged by Minister for SAFRON, K-P governor and FDMA.
The deadline for evacuating North Waziristan has been extended another day again, according to Express News. This is the second time the deadline has been extended. The initial deadline for leaving the agency was Saturday.
According to the data provided by FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), over 300,000 people have migrated from North Waziristan Agency since the operation started, Express News reports.
June 21, 10:05pm
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has asked the police and security agencies to pool their resources to fully secure the twin cities, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and its residents in wake of the recently launched operation in the tribal areas.
For more details, you can read the full story here.
All ranks of the army will donate one day’s pay to the IDPs, according to ISPR reports Express News.
DG ISPR Asim Bajwa has said that the army will also provide 30-days of ration for the IDPs.
So far, the government has registered 227,049 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected due to the ongoing operation in North Waziristan with the help of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).
According to the latest official data made available on Saturday, the government registered 15,757 families including 56,214 males, 70,465 females and 100,370 children.
Four rehabilitation centers have been established at Dera Ismail Khan, Laki Marwat, Bannu and Tank where IDPs would be processed through the verification of NADRA, according to officials.
A control room had also been established in the Ministry of States and Frontier Region to provide rehabilitation services for the IDPs that was working round-the-clock and providing every type of information.
A cash amount of Rs12,000 was being paid to every IDP family for food assistance, and NADRA was verifying them one by one at the established centers.
A young Internally Displaced Pakistani girl from the North Waziristan tribal region gives drink oral rehydration solution (ORS) to a baby at the Women and Children Hospital in Bannu. PHOTO: AFP
Jet planes of the Pakistan Air Force bombed militant hideouts in the Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, leaving three militants dead and six others injured, Express News reported.
One militant hideout was completely destroyed in the bombing, which was carried out after credible information about the presence of militants.
June 20, 7:47pm
“Three terrorist hideouts in the Qutab Khel area, on the outskirts of Miramshah were destroyed early morning today by gunship helicopters. It was an integrated action by cobra gunships, artillery and snipers. Twelve terrorists including foreigners were killed in the strikes. A huge cache of arms and ammunition was also destroyed,” an ISPR press release said.
The statement went on to add that while the operation progresses as per plan, terrorists inside cordoned area are making desperate attempts to flee from area. “Six attempts were foiled last night. Three locals who did not have any identity proof were apprehended while trying to flee from the cordon.”
Further, the statement added, another 24 suspects, who were trying to flee in the garb of IDPs, have been apprehended at various ‘strangulation’ check posts in Mirali and Miramshah.
During the prime minister’s visit to the Corps Headquarters in Peshawar, he was informed that 232 terrorists had been killed in the ongoing operation, and 20 terrorist hideouts have also been destroyed.
Eight soldiers were killed and seven injured during the operation.
The United Nations (UN) health agencies are supporting Pakistan’s humanitarian efforts to help thousands of people who have left North Waziristan where armed forces have launched an anti-terrorist operation, a UN spokesperson said on Thursday.
Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, while speaking at a regular media briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York, said that access remained the “greatest challenge” in the areas of displacement and urged the authorities to improve the humanitarian space.
He said an estimated 34,000 people fled North Waziristan on Wednesday, following a relaxation in the curfew, bringing the total number of people displaced from the area since May to some 100,000. Further movement was anticipated, he added.
Chairing a high level meeting in Islamabad, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sought national unity and stressed that “there is a need to extend full support to our jawans (soldiers) in the combat area.”
Civilians are streaming out of a tribal area in a two-pronged exodus ahead of an expected ground assault against militants, officials said Thursday, with many crossing the border into Afghanistan.
Tanks and troops have been mobilised and are expected to begin a new, more intense phase of the operation after a three-day window to allow civilians to leave the area, due to end on June 20.
Officials say that at least 113,000 people have fled North Waziristan since initial air strikes began in May.
“Afghan authorities have yet to prepare a final report but up to now they have provided assistance to 818 Pakistani families,” an official responsible for monitoring the displacement on the Afghan border told AFP.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said national unity is inevitable for the success of the military operation in North Waziristan, while talking to Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, according to Radio Pakistan.
The prime minister said Pakistan is fighting a decisive war against terrorists, adding that the jawans engaged in the war would be extended full support.
He also said that IDPs in K-P would be fully assisted.
Fifteen terrorists were killed in Zartatangi mountain heights, east of Miramshah by army gunship cobra helicopters last night when spotted. It was one of the main communication centres of terrorists, said an ISPR statement.
“In a separate sniper action, eight Uzbeks were killed around Miramshah while planting IEDs on the road Miramshah-Mirali,” the statement added.
Further, the ISPR statement said, areas housing terrorists in North Wazirstan Agency are continuously being cordoned off, while terrorists’ attempts to flee the area have been foiled.
“Today, evacuation of civil population from Miramshah and Ghulam Khan started. Check points have been established at various places where IDPs are being provided all administrative support including food items and medicine by security forces,” said the statement.
Furthermore, it added that the number of registration points at Saidgai Post have been increased to 20 — 10 each for men and women, for speedy and organised evacuation. IDP camps at Bannu have also been established, the ISPR said in its statement.
The AJK Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed a unanimous resolution in support of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in its session in Muzaffarabad.
Similarly, the Punjab Assembly also passed a resolution in support of the operation. The resolution, tabled by the Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, praised the prime minister for making the right decision in conducting the operation.
As the operation in North Waziristan continues, a fresh drone attack in Miramshah killed at least four people on Wednesday morning, Express News reports.
June 17, 9:50pm
Instead of providing relief goods and food, the government has decided to initially provide each IDP family cash grant of Rs 12,000 to take care of their needs. Later, they would be provided with Rs 7,000 on a monthly basis.
Read this story for more details on the government’s plan for taking care of IDPs.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told The Associated Press in an interview that the US was not coordinating military operations with Pakistan along the border, but officials have increased the amount of intelligence-sharing with the Afghans. He said the Afghan troops and US forces in that region were ready for any effects of the strikes, including extremists seeking refuge in Afghanistan.
Six terrorist hideouts including a training camp and an IED making factory around Hasokhel, North Waziristan Agency were destroyed by jet aircraft early morning today. Twenty-five foreign and local terrorists were killed in the strikes, according to a press release issued by ISPR.
The statement went on to add that the operation in North Waziristan Agency is progressing as per plan. “Last night three terrorists were killed while fleeing from the cordoned off area in Miramshah. One soldier got injured in exchange of fire.
Further, the statement said, no operation in built up area has been started so far to ensure that no terrorist can escape the cordon and that civilians are safely evacuated after their detailed verification.
“Necessary logistics and administrative arrangements for IDPs have been completed by the political administration and Disaster Management Agency. Security of IDP camp being ensured by Army troops,” the statement said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to ensure provision of ample funds for the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of the North Waziristan operation.
Meanwhile, PM Nawaz has also directed Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch to visit affected areas of North Waziristan operation. The minister will remain present in the area to look after the displaced people. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
A resolution in favour of the military operation was passed in the National Assembly; Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) abstained from approving it, according to our National Assembly correspondent Azam Khan.
The resolution, moved by Zahid Hamid, was signed and supported by PML (N), PPP, PTI, MQM and ANP.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday constituted a national coordination committee to oversee the operation and related issues.
The coordination committee would hold meetings on regular basis and will keep the Prime Minister informed about the progress of the operation, said a statement issued by PM office.
The committee will be comprised of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Information Minister Senator Parvez Rashid, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt General (retd) Abdul Quadir Baloch and Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Secretary interior, secretary finance, chief sectary K-P, Chairman NDMA, Chief of General Staff, DG MO, DG ISI, DG ISPR would also be the part of the committee.
As the army launches arguably its toughest operation yet against militants in the country’s restive tribal region, The Express Tribune takes a look back at previous major operations launched to root out militancy in the past 10 years.
Giving details about yesterday’s offensive, the ISPR press release states that 140 militants – mostly Uzbek – were killed in precise air strikes in Degan-Boya area of North Waziristan.
“Many East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) terrorists and their affiliates have also been killed in the strikes. It was a massive blow to the terrorists and one of their main communication centres has been dismantled,” the ISPR states.
Around seven fleeing terrorists were also killed on the outskirts of Mirali last night. In a separate sniper action by Special Service Group, three terrorists were killed when they were planting IEDs close to Miramshah.
Three soldiers were injured last night in exchange of fire between army men and terrorists around Mirali.
“We will rid the country of terrorists,” Army Chief General Raheel Sharif says, speaking about the operation in North Waziristan. He adds that the operation will continue until all terrorists are eliminated.
Pakistani soldiers heading towards North Waziristan. PHOTO: AFP
Our defence correspondent Kamran Yousaf tells us that at least seven suspected militants were killed in the Shawal area in the first ground encounter between security forces and militants since the army moved into North Waziristan Agency.
A senior security official tells The Express Tribune that a shootout took place in early hours on Monday.
This is the first reported encounter between the army and militants on the ground as earlier militants were killed in air strikes.
Giving details about the operation, the official tells our defence correspondent that militants were surrounded by the army in the overnight raid with the intention to capture them alive. However, the official adds, the militants opened fired and were killed in the shootout.
The press release further states: “Operation in North Waziristan Agency is progressing as per plan. No operation in civil populated areas has been started so far. North Waziristan Agency has been isolated by deploying troops along its border with neighbouring agencies and Fata regions to block any move of terrorists in and out of the Agency.”
A Pakistan Army convoy heads towards North Waziristan in Bannu district. PHOTO: AFP
ISPR says security has been beefed up in all major cities and towns and at sensitive installations across the country by civil administration.
“Army troops have been alerted and forward placed to assist law enforcement agencies. They will remain at designated places and whenever asked by civil administration will be employed in case of emergency,” ISPR adds.
ISPR has also released a detailed statement on the North Waziristan operation. You can read the entire press release here.
According to the statement, eight hideouts of terrorists were destroyed and 105 terrorists, mostly Uzbek foreigners, were killed.
“As of now North Wazirastan Agency has been isolated by deploying troops along its border with neighboring agencies and FATA Regions to block any move of terrorists in and out of the Agency,” said the statement, adding that within the agency, troops have moved and cordoned off all terrorists bases, including in the town of Mirali and Miramshah.
“Announcements will be made for local population to approach designated areas for their orderly and dignified evacuation out of the Agency. Meanwhile, aerial surveillance of the area is being carried out by own aerial surveillance platforms,” the statement added.
Further, the statement added that Afghan security forces have also been requested to seal the border on their side to facilitate the operation. “They have also been requested to initiate immediate measures to eliminate TTP terrorists and their sanctuaries in Kunar, Nuristan and other areas of Afghanistan.”
Information Minister Pervez Rashid has appealed to all political parties to stand by the army during the operation. He went on to add that the militants will either drop their weapons or face defeat, Express News reported.
A military official in the main North Waziristan town of Miramshah told AFP that the coordinated operation – involving airforce, artillery, tanks and ground troops – has already started.
After the announcement of the full-scale operation in the North Waziristan area, a security official on ground said that thousands of troops have been moved for action. “Thousands of troops will participate in this action. You can roughly say 25,000 to 30,000 troops will be involved in the operation,” the official said on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to media.
Talking to Express News, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the government went through with peace talks, but once they failed the government decided to launch military action. He went on to add that civilians residing in that area will face difficulties due to the operation, but the government is prepared to assist them.
“The army is ready and citizens should remain calm army is prepared to deal with difficult situations and will help civilians move,” he said, adding that air and ground forces are fully ready to act and will bring complete peace to the area.
“We will complete the operation as soon as possible,” he added.
ISPR press release announces launch of military operation.
“DG ISPR has said that 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. The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb,” said the press release.
The ISPR statement went on to add that terrorists in North Waziristan had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property. “They had also paralysed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorised the entire peace loving and patriotic local population,” the statement added.
“Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries. 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,” said the statement.