ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s military chief Saturday visited the headquarters of two infantry divisions in Swat and Malakand Division and reportedly gave final nod to an upcoming targeted military action against the terrorists, almost a week after an army general was killed in a terror hit in nearby Upper Dir district.
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the headquarters of 17 Infantry Div and 19 Infantry Div to review the final preparatory arrangements for and give a go-ahead to targeting the terrorists safe havens in Upper Dir, according to a Pakistan Army brigadier.
The move is clearly linked to the killing of General Officer Commanding (GOC) 17 Infantry Div, Major General Sanaullah Khan, who was taken out in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack Sunday night by the militants near Gatkotal village of Upper Dir, on his way back after a two-night stay at Bin Shahi sector.
Notorious terrorist organisation Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took responsibility for the attack which also resulted in the death of Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Touseef and Lance Naik Irfan Sattar. The GOC had visited Shahi sector, at a height of 10,000 feet, reportedly to check military preparedness against cross-border incursions from Afghan side.
A military statement on Saturday, however, lacked any mention of the reported military operation, which, according to the brigadier, could be launched anytime now after the approval of the COAS. The statement said that Gen Kayani visited Upper Dir to offer prayers for deceased soldiers of the Sunday attack. Gen Kayani “paid rich tributes to them for their ultimate sacrifice and said that the whole nation would remain indebted to them,” it said.
The planned military operation in Upper Dir is to be led by the GOC 19 Infantry Div, Major General Ghulam Qamar, who has been assigned the additional charge of 17 Infantry Div. The operation would see concentrated use of force against miscreants in Maidan, Shaltalo, Barawal, and Usherai Darra, the four villages of Upper Dir where the militants have reportedly moved from Karachi and parts of Khyber Agency to avoid military action. The Upper Dir Scouts at Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would also take part in the targeted operation, the brigadier shared while requesting anonymity.
The Saturday’s statement of army chief mainly focussed on the military-run developmental projects in Swat and Malakand Division. “Recounting the success of military operation in Swat, the COAS appreciated the troops for successfully evicting the militants from Malakand Division. He specially lauded them for their post-operation role of settlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) back in their hometowns, reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure, and capacity building of civil administration including training of police.”
During the last couple of years, the press release stated, a host of reconstruction and rebuilding projects have been completed by the army in Malakand and Swat, helping bring normalcy in the area and relief to the locals. The army would continue to play its role in rebuilding the area and assisting civil administration in maintenance of law and order, Gen Kayani reiterated.
12 terrorists killed
APP adds: Security forces late Saturday night killed 12 terrorists after they ambushed a group of 20 terrorists near Pak-Afghan border in Dir District, security sources said.
A patrolling party of security forces killed the terrorists during an hour-long gunbattle, the sources told APP.
They said that the terrorists were killed by a patrolling party at about 10 pm. Two soldiers were also injured in the incident.