Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah says JuA hideouts in Afghanis­tan were bombed by US drones.
Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah says JuA hideouts in Afghanis­tan were bombed by US drones.

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Commit­tee on Defence was informed on Thursday that it could not be confirmed that Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA) chief Omar Khalid Khorasani had been killed in a US drone strike.

Speaking at a meeting of the committee, Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan Shah said that during the recent drone strikes by the United Unites no Pakistani area along the Pak-Afghan border was targeted. He said JuA hideouts in Afghanis­tan were bombed by US drones.

The meeting was presided over by the committee’s chairman, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.

Mr Shah said there had been no confirmation that Khorasani, a wanted terrorist, had been killed in Afghanistan.

Defence secretary tells Senate panel no Pakistani area was hit during any US attack

The picture claimed to be of dead Khorasani was that of Umar Naray, the mastermind of the Army Public School Peshawar attack, who was killed in a drone attack in July last year, he added.

Khorasani’s death was announced by his group’s spokesman Asad Mansoor last Thursday.

There had also been reports that JuA had chosen his successor.

“Chief of our Jamaatul Ahrar Omar Khalid Khorasani, who sustained serious injuries in a recent US drone strike in Afghanistan’s Paktia province, succumbed to his injuries Wednesday evening,” spokesman Mansoor had told AFP news agency by telephone.

Except the JuA’s announce­ment, Khorasani’s death had neither been claimed by the US-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan nor the Afghan government.

However, coming ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Islamabad and coinciding with the release of North American citizen Coleman and her family, it was speculated that the Americans had targeted him to rebuild trust with Pakistani security agencies for resumption of counterterrorism cooperation.

The Khorasani-led JuA has been behind some of the most gruesome terrorist attacks in the country. He is one of the main terrorists that Pakistan has been demanding from Afghanistan.

The US has over the past few weeks intensified bombardment and drone attacks on militant targets close to the Pak-Afghan border. Media reports have claimed that some of the drones have also hit targets on Pakistani territory.

Mr Shah said the attacks had happened across the border, in the area opposite Kharlachi in Kurram Agency.

JuA and the Haqqani network were targeted there by both jets and drones, he added.

The committee asked the Ministry of Defence to furnish details of all drone attacks that the US had carried out on Pakistani soil.

The committee decided to move a unanimous motion in the Senate calling upon the government to demand compensation from Nato for the losses suffered due to drone attacks and compensation for the victims.

“Drone strikes were violation of the international laws and the committee would make all-out efforts to provide relief to innocent civilians,” the chairman of the committee observed.

Ceasefire violations

According to APP, the defence secretary told the committee that India had committed around 1,299 ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary during 2017, stating that these violations were the highest ever in a year.

He informed the committee that Indian forces were deliberately targeting civilian population.

He said the UN observers could only access LoC from the Pakistani side, whereas India was not allowing them from its side.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2017