ISLAMABAD: Talking to media personnel after being briefed by military officials on the progress of operation Zarb-i-Azb Thursday, NA Standing Committee on Defence Chairman Rohail Asghar said Pakistan Army will remain in the country's tribal areas till 2019.

The PML-N MNA went on to say that several abettors of terrorists had also been held or eliminated during operations, adding that it won’t be a “big deal” if politicians are arrested as a result of operations.

“Nothing is more important than Pakistan,” said Asghar.

Asghar said around 64,000 internally displaced people had returned to their native towns in the tribal region so far.

He said some Taliban militants had fled to Afghanistan, while others had joined the self-styled Islamic State for material gains.

Asghar said despite the tough terrain in Shawal, forces were fearlessly making advances and making Zarb-i-Azb a success.

Earlier during the briefing, military officials told the NA body that since the start of operation Zarb-i-Azb in June 2014, forces have killed more than 3,500 terrorists.

More than 300 military men and officers have also lost their lives during the operation, said military officials.

Briefing the NA committee about progress on the operation, military officials said the army was conducting the final phase of operation Zarb-i-Azb in Shawal Valley of North Waziristan.

They added that forces had control over strategic heights in Shawal Valley, and now ground and air forces were targeting terrorists in their hideouts.

The committee was told that over 1,000 intelligence-based operations conducted throughout the country have eliminated major terrorist networks. Officials said no area had been left unguarded by forces after it was cleared.

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