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RAWALPINDI: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Saturday said that the Pakistan Army was fully capable of deterring and defeating aggression “across the entire spectrum of threat…yet, Pakistan persistently seeks peace in the region and beyond”.

Addressing a passing out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, the army chief said: “Let there be no doubt that any aggression against Pakistan will get a befitting response and no sacrifice will be too great in this sacred cause.”

"Lasting peace in the region will only come about with the fair and just resolution of the Kashmir issue; in accordance with the will of the Kashmiri people as enshrined in the UN resolutions.”

General Raheel said coercion and repression of Kashmiri people would not shake their confidence from ultimately exercising their freedom of choice which has been promised to them by the international community.

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" It is Pakistan's firm belief that the determination of our Kashmiri brethren and collective conscience of the free world will bear fruit and their aspirations will eventually be realised,” he remarked.

"This quest for peace is our nation’s greatest strength. We desire regional stability and a relationship based on equality and mutual respect.”

Referring to the rapidly changing geo-political environment, the army chief said that globally asserting non-state actors have put Pakistan in the centre stage.

"In its wake, the situation has brought numerous challenges and opportunities for Pakistan and at the same time, this has put enormous burden of responsibility and deliverance on Pakistan Army,” General Raheel stated.

"Shying away from adversities is not in our nature; we have resolved to face these squarely,” he said.

The military chief said that the army was symbolic of national unity and hope — thriving on the aspirations of the people of Pakistan.

Referring to on going operation Zarb-i-Azb, General Raheel said it was not merely an operation, it was a concept, a resolve and a commitment to the nation.

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“The commitment is to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism once and for all. Pakistan Army is the cutting-edge of this resolve. A resolve that is currently evident in North Waziristan, where the military operation is delivering decisive results. Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies aided by intelligence agencies are also playing a commendable role in hunting down terrorists and their networks across the country,” he said.

He said that in view of the successes Pakistan was achieving, the displaced people of Fata would be able to return to their homes sooner than expected. On their return a new life of peace and prosperity shall take root Insha Allah (God willing).

However, the army chief said that in order to bring about lasting peace in Fata and in the country at large, cohesive, dedicated and timely involvement of all stakeholders and state institutions was essential.

On Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan sincerely prayed that the new political dispensation in the neighbouring country brought peace, stability and prosperity to its people and to the region at large.

He assured that Pakistan Army in its capacity would do everything to support the Afghan security forces in every possible manner.

"It is a proven fact that the surest way of realising this dream is through unequivocal commitment to true democratic values and rule of law. We stand for these virtues in letter and spirit and any reservations about our intent are not only misplaced but also detrimental for the country,” he said.