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PESHAWAR, Aug 6: A senior military commander here on Saturday described a tribal militant commander as a soldier of peace and said that his meeting with him early this week had been helpful in removing misunderstandings between them.

“Baitullah Mehsud is a soldier of peace,” declared Corps Commander, Peshawar, Lt-Gen Safdar Hussain at a meeting with a journalists’ delegation here.

“Vested elements which wanted to create differences between the Pakistan Army and the tribal people and create doubts in the mind of Baitullah Mehsud have failed,” the corps commander said. “Our brief meeting helped remove those misunderstandings.”

The commander confirmed reports of his meeting with the top militant commander from South Waziristan tribal region who had last week blasted the military for going back on its words and said that the peace deal he had signed with the government was no longer holding.

Gen Safdar said that the militant commander had reiterated his support and cooperation to the military for its efforts to carry out development work in the tribal region.

The military commander said Pakistan was all for peace and security in Afghanistan. The absence of security in the neighbouring country invariably affected the Pakistani tribal areas, he maintained.

He said that Pakistan’s soil would not be allowed to be used for any subversive activity.

Recalling his efforts to restore peace to the restive tribal region, the corps commander said that he had held 93 jirgas and undertaken 53 major military operations to cleanse the area of foreign militants.

He said that apart from destroying their command and control system, the military had also been able to dismantle their bases besides killing more than 350 militants, including 175 foreign nationals.

Gen Safdar said that the military was committed to ending terrorism and had deployed more than 70,000 troops and set up 731 checkpoints along the border to check cross-border movement.

He strongly denied charges by Afghanistan of infiltration from Pakistan and said they had sent additional 4,000 troops to plug the border.