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Pakistan's new army chief defies terrorist attacks

December 21, 2013
Despite showing support for the govt’s peace talks’ initiative with Taliban, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif Saturday said that terrorist attacks will not be tolerated. – File Photo
Despite showing support for the govt’s peace talks’ initiative with Taliban, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif Saturday said that terrorist attacks will not be tolerated. – File Photo

PESHAWAR: Despite reiterating full support to the ongoing government-led peace process with the Taliban militants, Pakistan’s new army chief General Raheel Sharif Saturday vowed to not tolerate any more terrorist attacks.

During his visit to the Corps Headquarters in Peshawar, he emphasised that terrorist attacks will not be tolerated and will be responded effectively, said a statement issued by the ISPR.

Ruling out military action against proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as its first preference, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has promised to persuade insurgents to lay down their weapons through peace negotiations.

PM Sharif, earlier this week, said the government will use “force as a last resort.”

The Pakistani Taliban, however, have dismissed the government’s peace initiative saying they have information that plans are already under way for a military operation, adding the insurgents were ready for battle.

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Sharif laid a flower wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada (martyrs’ monument) on his arrival in the capital of troubled Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP) province bordering Afghanistan.

“He paid tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the defence of motherland,” said the statement.

Later, he was briefed in detail at the Corps Headquarters about various operational, training and administrative matters.

The army chief appreciated the resolve displayed by the officers and men during fight against terrorism and bringing stability to the militancy hit areas.

The clashes between militants and Pakistani security forces, erupted following a suicide attack on a military checkpoint which killed at least five soldiers and wounded 34 others Wednesday night, have seen at least 53 people dead in North Waziristan.

Still unclear is whether the individuals who have been killed in this week’s clashes are civilian or militant. Indeed, the entire chain of events that has left the whole of North Waziristan under a curfew for four days is shrouded in confusion. Competing version of events between military sources, militant groups and local residents cannot yet be reconciled in an area that is inaccessible to most journalists.

Appreciating the infrastructure building and reconstruction work being undertaken by the Pakistan Army for socio-economic benefit of the local population of FATA and Malakand, the army chief instructed all concerned to ensure quality and timely completion of these projects.

Earlier, on his arrival in Peshawar, the COAS was received by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani.