PESHAWAR: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa kicked off his visits to field formations from North Waziristan and Peshawar and got a briefing about the security situation in the Federally Adminis­tered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday.

“War against terrorism will continue with focused approach and it will be taken to its logical conclusion till total elimination of terrorism from our soil. We will continue to move ahead of the gains already made so far,” Gen Bajwa told soldiers in Miramshah on his first visit to field formations.

Gen Bajwa took over the command of the army on Tuesday after Gen Raheel Sharif’s retirement.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, the army chief visited the 11 Corps headquarters in Peshawar and North Waziristan Agency.

He was given a detailed briefing about the security situation in Fata and KP, particularly Malakand division, ongoing stabilisation and combing operations, progress of return of temporarily dislocated persons (TDPs) and development works in the conflict-stricken region, an ISPR statement said.

In North Waziristan, he was briefed by the local formation commander on the security situation in the area and resettlement phase of the TDPs. He also inspected the reconstruction work on ground.

Security experts believe that a daunting task for the new army chief in Fata, especially in North and South Waziristan, is repatriation of TDPs, their rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure. The army is directly handling reconstruction as well as rehabilitation activities in the two tribal regions. Rehabilitation of TDPs and reconstruction activities are going on at a slow pace.

Over a million civilians were displaced from North Waziristan after the security forces launched operation Zarb-i-Azb against local and foreign militants. The area has been cleared of militants and a majority of the TDPs have returned to their homes.

“I think Gen Bajwa selected North Waziristan for his first visit as COAS to boost the morale of the soldiers in the region,” said retired Brig Mehmood Shah, a former home secretary for KP and Fata.

“His predecessor Gen Raheel Sharif frequently visited North and South Waziristan agencies. That is why the new chief went there to convey to the troops that they have not been forgotten,” he said.

ISPR said that Gen Bajwa paid tribute to “brave tribes”, officers and soldiers of the army, Frontier Corps (FC), Levies and police and vowed that no terrorists of any hue would ever be allowed to come back.

“Defence and security of Pakistan against external and internal threats will remain his ultimate objective as chief of army staff,” ISPR quoted him as saying.

He stressed the need for expediting the raising of FC wings to enhance an effective Pak-Afghan border management. He said that TDPs’ return should be completed within the stipulated time and they should be assisted in all ways to resettle respectfully.

The statement said that Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman accompanied Gen Bajwa to North Waziristan.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2016

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