RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army has launched an operation called Khyber-4 in Rajgal Valley area of Khyber Agency, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor announced on Sunday.
Addressing a media conference, the ISPR DG said the operation has been launched to wipe out terrorists and consolidate gains made in other military operations to further enhance the security of Pakistan’s borders.
He said that the operation aims to secure the international border with Afghanistan by preventing Daesh and other local militants on Afghan side of the border from infiltration.
He reiterated that Daesh has no presence in Pakistan but the area, next to the Afghan border, is being used by militants affiliated to it. “The militant organisation’s influence is growing on other side of the border,” he added.
Hoping to secure the border unilaterally, he said the operation would not be easy in the area being mountainous and having tough terrain. “The operation will continue till complete hold on Khyber Agency,” he asserted.
DG ISPR said one division troops with support of Pakistan Air Force are taking part in the operation. “Around 500 families had been living in this area, which are currently staying in safer places as Temporarily Displaced Persons,” he added.
“There will never be any foreign boots on our ground,” said Maj Gen Ghafoor when talking about collaborative efforts against terrorism on the Pak-Afghan border.
Fencing of Afghan border and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad
He also referred to the ongoing phase-1 of the fencing the Afghan border, which is being done in collaboration with Afghanistan. He said on average there will be a fort or check post after every 1.5 kilometres.
He said Pakistan and Afghanistan will maintain an open-door policy for cooperation and discussion on bilateral issues to remove”a trust deficit” on the Afghan side. “If the Afghan army was capable then maybe the issue would be resolved sooner,” he said.
The army spokesman also shared details of countrywide operations conducted under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad which have reduced terrorists incidents in the country.
“As many as 56 major operations including the Mastung operation and over 9,000 intelligence based operations were launched while over 1,500 joint check-posts were established across Pakistan,” he said.
Line of Control situation and Kulbushan Jadhav case
Major Gen. Ghafoor said the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) has been “especially tense” and there has been 580 ceasefire violations this year alone.
He said there were 382 in 2016, 248 in 2015 and 315 in 2014, but the current ceasefire violations have resulted in the highest number of civilian casualties.”India targets civilians in ceasefire violations,” he said.
“This indicates the Indian aim of diverting attention from political upheaval in Indian-occupied Kashmir,” he claimed adding that
To a question, he said the Chief of Army Staff General Qammar Javed Bajwa will take a final decision on the mercy plea of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav at the earliest.
“All evidence and case proceedings are being examined by the army chief, and he will make a decision on the basis of merit and justice,” he said.
CPEC and Army Chief’s message
He termed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as “very critical for the progress of Pakistan” and said the armed forces would give complete security and will not let it fail at any cost.
“The entire country, the state’s institutions, are all one on CPEC,” he assured.
DG ISPR read out a message from Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa during the press conference:
“We are building peace in our country brick by brick and moving from relative stability towards enduring peace.
“For this, the army should continue to perform its role with support of all other state institutions.”
Army has ‘no direct involvement in JIT’
In redponse to another question, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said the army has “no direct involvement” in the Joint Investigation Team formed to probe the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case.
“There is no direct army involvement in the JIT,” he asserted and said that it was working as mandated by the Supreme Court.
“The JIT was made by the Supreme Court. Two of its members belong to the Inter Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence. It is a sub-judice case and will go to court,” he said.
He said that Pakistan Army will continue to play its role for the security of Pakistan with other institutions. “Political talk is in the political domain.”