ISLAMABAD - A day after Taliban killed two senior military officers, Pakistan’s army chief reiterated military’s support to the political process to reconcile with the militants but declared they will not budge before terrorism and not let them take undue advantage of it.
“The COAS (Chief of the Army Staff) reiterated Pakistan Army’s resolve and unflinching commitment in fighting the menace of terrorism, in accordance with the will of the nation and at any cost,” a statement issued from the General Headquarters on Monday quoted General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as saying.
“It is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process but no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms. Army has the ability and the will to take the fight to the terrorists.”
General Kayani’s statement came with direct reference to the four deadly attacks having taken place in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on Saturday and Sunday resulting in the loss of the lives of six military men, including a major general and a lieutenant colonel. Banned terrorist organisation Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for all the four attacks.
“The COAS lauded the ultimate sacrifices of the shaheeds (martyrs) and injured of the four cowardly acts of terrorism,” the statement said. General Kayani vowed to “spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators of these cowardly acts of terrorism to justice.”
Corresponding to this development, Pakistan Army has launched preparations for targeted operations in Dir and Waziristan region, informed military insiders. Reportedly, two infantry divisions – 17 Infantry Div and 19 Infantry Div based in Swat and Malakand Division, each headed by a general officer commanding (GOC) – and Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would conduct the said offensive against the local TTP groups, some time by this week.
At a time when some circles were creating much hype about the contemplated ‘peace talks’ with the militants, the carrying out of such provocative deadly attacks on the Pakistan Army clearly stand reflective of the disinterest on part of the notorious umbrella terrorist organisation in mending its ways.
The fresh episode of violence also appears to have put the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in an embarrassing position, which had recently taken pride in announcing the ‘withdrawal’ of security forces from Swat Valley and Malakand Division.
Speaking remarkably high about Maj-Gen Sanaullah Khan, the GOC 17 Infantry Div Swat, who was fatally targeted in Upper Dir along with his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Touseef Ahmed and Sepoy Irfan Sattar, the army chief said that the officer demonstrated exemplary courage, total commitment to duty and highest leadership qualities.
“The general officer has set towering example of leading from the front which is hallmark of leadership in Pakistan Army. We all salute his bravery and stand with the families of shuhadas (martyrs) and injured. Pakistani nation and army will remain indebted to the sacrifices of their soldiers.”
According to the military statement, Maj-Gen Sanaullah shaheed was visiting his troops deployed on Pak-Afghan border. He stayed the night with troops at a 10,000 feet-high border post in Bin Shahi Sector. His vehicle was targeted in Upper Dir through an improvised explosive device (IED) on his way back, the media release stated.
Giving details about the recent terror attacks, the military said, during the night falling between September 14-15, terrorists attacked a Khassadars patrolling party near Bannu. “The attack was repulsed by the patrolling party. However, encounter resulted into shahadat (martyrdom) of one and injuries to four Khassadars.”
Later, the army said, during early hours of September 15, two of the army posts located on Miranshah-Mir Ali road were subjected to IED attacks by the terrorists. “The posts along this road are meant to keep the traffic uninterrupted and secure. One soldier each from army and FC KP laid down their lives for the motherland whereas two soldiers sustained injuries in these attacks.”
The most heinous act of terrorism, the military said, took place at 12:30pm on September 15 near village Gatkotal in Upper Dir.
“This too was an imrovised explosive device (IED) attack on the vehicle of Major General Sanaullah Khan, General Officer Commanding 17 Division, presently operating in Swat,” the statement said.