Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif says Pakistan’s fight against terrorism is ‘a war for its survival’.—APP
Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif says Pakistan’s fight against terrorism is ‘a war for its survival’.—APP

Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif said on Thursday that the army was ready to go to any extent for peace in the country and its security and stability.

He was speaking at the concluding session of a two-day seminar on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The army chief spoke about the overall fight against terrorism, security of corridor projects, strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan and its role in the CPEC.

“Let [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi and RAW know that our borders are secure. We know our enemy and its conspiracies and we will leave no stone unturned to defeat those plots,” he said while speaking about the threats to the project from India.

Delhi, it may be recalled, has publicly adopted a hostile posture on the CPEC and tried to dissuade China, during its bilateral interactions, from engaging with Pakistan in the project.

This was the second time since last year’s Defence Day celebrations at the GHQ that the army chief directly responded to the Indian leadership.

Prime Minister Modi had in his country’s independence day speech last month accused Pakistan of suppressing the rights of people in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Although there was no direct reference to the CPEC in the speech, it is inferred that the remarks were also aimed at China, which is investing in those regions as part of the $46 billion communications and infrastructure project.

Gen Raheel gave an overview of the progress made so far towards the establishment of a dedicated special security division for the CPEC, which the military had announced soon after the visit to Pakistan of Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.

He said the northern wing of the CPEC security division had already been raised, while the process for establishment of the southern wing had been initiated.

The northern wing will cater to the security of the projects situated between Khunjerab on the border with China and Rawalpindi, while the rest of the projects will be looked after by the southern wing.

The army chief for the first time publicly shared the responsibilities envisaged for the upcoming security division. “Their responsibilities would range from being first responders in case of threats to nuclear energy projects with China to advising and supporting law enforcement agencies that would be in the lead for security of other projects,” he said, adding: “They would be advising, indirectly controlling and, at times, directing the law enforcement agencies.”

Terrorism

Gen Raheel said Pakistan’s fight against terrorism was “a war for its survival”. Reiterating his pledge to take the fight to its logical conclusion, he said the facilitators, abettors and financiers of terrorists “would be sorted out and eliminated” for ensuring peace and security in the country.

In this regard, he said, the army would break the evil nexus of corruption, crime and terrorism.

Speaking at the seminar, Commander of 10 Corps Lt Gen Malik Zafar Iqbal said the northern wing of the CPEC security division would start working soon.

Emphasising the importance of security for development projects, he said those ventures could not be possible without a secured and enabling environment.

Gen Iqbal said a major challenge to the CPEC came from regional and extra-regional players. “Every sacrifice would be made for the success of the project,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2016

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