'14,000 Fata men to join Pakistan Army'

Updated October 06, 2014

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Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif. — File photo/Reuters
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif. — File photo/Reuters

RAWALPINDI: The military chief on Monday announced an uplift scheme for the residents of the volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), promising induction in army ranks as well as education and employment opportunities.

An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement issued today quoted the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif as saying that the policy titled 'Fata Youth Package' will induct into the army 14,000 men from the region over the course of next five years. The total strength of the military's active troops is over 500,000.

According to the ISPR, the package also entails free education to 1,500 Fata children through army public schools and colleges in all cantonments, with reserved seats for Fata students in military cadet colleges on a yearly basis.

The army will also work to enhance technical skills among the Fata youth through technical training institutes, adding that arrangements are already being worked upon for their overseas employment, the statement said.

The troubled mountainous area has been a hideout for years for militants of all stripes — including al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as well as foreign fighters.

General Raheel spent the first half of Eid-ul-Azha offering prayers with troops at Wana and later flew to Miranshah to meet the troops participating in the ongoing operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan. He later proceeded to Bannu, where displaced Fata residents have been living since mid-June.

He expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the operation thus far. "With this level of determination shown by the army and the people of Pakistan, there is no doubt that we will root out the cancer of terrorism from our country forever," the ISPR statement quoted the army chief as saying.

“Pakistan Army will work hand in glove to garner maximum support for relief and early rehabilitation of the IDPs," he added.