MIR ALI: The Pakistan Army has taken strong exception to a recent report by the US Defence Department which accused Pakistan of using “proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military”.
Pakistan has already summoned US Ambassador Richard Olson to the Foreign Office to convey concerns over the report earlier this month.
The country’s protest over what the Foreign Office called "unwarranted comments" had been conveyed by the Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz to the US ambassador at the Foreign Ministry.
Briefing reporters from both national and international media at the army headquarters in Mir Ali, North Waziristan on Saturday, Major General Zafarullah Khan Khattak termed the report “baseless, malicious, demoralising and contrary to ground realities”.
“There is no such thing [happening here as is] mentioned in the Pentagon report. Pakistan army is not using militants anywhere for so called proxy wars,” said the senior army officer.
Khattak said that army operation, Zarb-i-Azb was being carried out against all militants group – including the Haqqani network – and that a number of militant commanders belonging to the militant outfit have also been killed in the offensive.
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He said that commanders of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant organisation working against China, have also been killed and the network destroyed in the operation in North Waziristan.
The commander expressed the hope that Pak-Afghan border security issues could be settled at the political level through talks and said the visit by the Afghan President to Pakistan is timely and would help in better border management.
Giving the latest figure about casualties, the commander said 42 officers and security forces personnel have been killed while 155 are injured in the ongoing operation.
“1,198 terrorists have been killed, 356 injured, and 227 have been arrested by security forces,” he said.
“11 private jails, 191 secret tunnels 39 IED factories, 4,991 various types of ready-made IEDs, 132 ton explosive material, 2,470 sub machine Guns, 293 machine Guns, 111 heavy machine Guns have also been recovered during the operation,” he added.
Giving an estimate of the recovered weapons and explosives, he said the quantity of the weapons and ammunition recovered from militants could have been used by militants to kill over 88,000 people and was massive enough to sustain war against security forces for more than 15 years.
Maj-Gen Khattak said Miramshah, Mir Ali, Boya, Dattakhel and Ghulam Khan areas of the tribal belt have been cleared, however, clearance operations are still underway.
About rehabilitation of the IDPs, he said fool proof mechanism has been adopted to ensure that militants are not returned to the area.
During briefing and field visits, pictures of dead bodies of the militants and weapons recovered from militants were also shown to the media.