WASHINGTON: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif has vowed not to spare those who played football with the heads of Pakistani soldiers.
In a hard-hitting speech at a dinner at the Pakistan Embassy, Gen Sharif also pledged to continue the war against extremists until all terrorist groups were eliminated.
“These miscreants, these barbarians played football with the heads of our soldiers and that scene never went off my mind,” said the general, highlighting his emotional attachment to the war against terrorists.
The army chief also assured the US administration that the operation against extremists was directed at all terrorist groups, whether they were attacking Pakistani, Afghan or US soldiers.
“I would like to openly say that this (operation) is against all hues and colours, and it is without any exception, whether it is Haqqani network or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan or anything,” he said.
Elaborating his personal commitment to the war against terror, Gen Sharif said he always wanted to eradicate this menace.
“After I took the command of the forces we were determined to eliminate these militants. We consulted with the political government and launched the operation,” he said.
The operation was going successfully and will continue until all these miscreants were eliminated, he added.
The army chief also explained that the operation was not confined to North or South Waziristan and covered the entire country as the military and the government were determined to win this fight.
He repeatedly assured Americans that the army was also targeting the Haqqani network.
Gen Sharif said that Zarb-i-Azb was not just a military offensive; it was “a concept to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”. The entire nation was backing this operation and was proud of the army’s achievements in the fight against terror.
At the dinner, he also said that the phenomenon of militant organisation Islamic State would not be allowed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He said the new Afghan government was keen on improving its ties with Pakistan and there would soon be “a sea change” in relations between the two neighbouring states.
Relations with the United States were also on an “upward trajectory”, said Gen Sharif, adding that he had “very good meetings” with his counterparts on boosting military-to-military ties.
US Special Representative Dan Feldman also endorsed his views, saying that the army chief had constructive and positive meetings during his visit.
On Wednesday evening, Gen Sharif met US National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House.
An army press release said the two sides held in-depth discussions on security issues and expressed satisfaction on the overall positive trajectory in the bilateral relationship.
Both sides recognised the importance of reinforcing stability in Afghanistan.
Adviser Rice appreciated the high-level exchanges between Pakistan and Afghanistan following the inauguration of the Unity Government in Kabul.
Both sides also acknowledged the need for close coordination and cooperation for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2014