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Fencing between Pakistan and Afghanistan to ensure peace: ISPR

28 January, 2019

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Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor Sunday said a peace deal in Afghanistan will also push the Pakistani Taliban having backing of inimical forces in the neighbouring country to opt for a reconciliatory path.

“Following the settlement, the terror elements having backing of inimical forces in Afghanistan, like the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan), will have to opt for some reconciliatory path as they will be left with no other choice,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said while briefing a team of reporters at Ghulam Khan, a bordering village in North Waziristan Agency. To a question regarding the impact of reconciliation process in Afghanistan on Pakistan, he said Pakistan had been playing a role in the efforts and if the parties concerned strike some mutual settlement, it will ultimately be in Islamabad’s interest.

The ISPR chief said work on about 900-kilometer-long fence along Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been completed. He said the work on erection of fence along about 1200-km chunk, the most sensitive portion out of the total 2600-km-long border with the neighbouring country, had commenced last year. He said the project would cost about Rs 70 billion, which also includes the cost of gadgets and surveillance equipment to keep strict vigil on the illicit movement from across the border. He said the fence had amply helped check the movement of terrorists from across the border and it would further assist after completion of the project which was expected next year.

Maj Gen Ghafoor said the military is fencing the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan to ensure peace on both sides and that he hoped that Kabul will not allow Afghan soil to be used as a staging ground for attacks against Pakistan.

The ISPR chief said 95 percent of the tribal people in North Waziristan displaced by military operations against militants had returned to their homes in the region, which once served as Taliban headquarters. He said the Pakistani Taliban now operate in neighboring Afghanistan after the military evicted or killed them in North Waziristan. He said thousands of security forces and civilians were killed in the fighting. “Normalcy is back, smiles are back on the faces people but it was not without a cost,” he said.

Earlier, Commander 11 Corps Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar and his team separately arranged a briefing at the Corps Headquarters Peshawar. During the question-answer session, the corps commander said after the end of war in the area the troops were now in the process of consolidation while steps were in hand to resettle about 4,000 families, which had earlier gone to Afghanistan.

Regarding the Pashtun Tahhafuz Movement (PTM), he said their most of the demands have already been met while the rest, if any, could be sorted out through a dialogue process. The DG ISPR on the issue added that the PTM leadership instead of making a hue and cry abroad should sit with the local leadership and seek settlement of their genuine grievances. “Pakistani Taliban used religion to spread violence and now Manzoor Pashteen was misguiding and inciting youths against the army,” he added.

The corps commander said following the operation against militants, there was no ‘no-go area’ in the erstwhile FATA. He said the local commanders have been empowered to hold dialogue and meetings with the people of their respective areas and help mitigate their grievances.

The delegation was also taken to Miranshah, the district headquarters of North Waziristan, where they directly interacted with the local populace. Students, traders and common citizens, while interacting with the media persons, welcomed the role of Pakistan Army in restoring complete peace in the area.

Maj Gen Ghafoor was hugged by youths and tribal elders in a sign of respect as he visited the town’s main bazaar with reporters. As Ghafoor spoke, some youths nearby shouted, “Long live Pakistan, and Long Live the Pakistan army.”

However, some others showed anguish for not being given financial compensation by the civil administration for the losses incurred during over a decade-long drive against militancy.

While interacting with the local populace, Major Gen Ghafoor said steps were in hand to sort out their genuine demands besides promptly undertaking work on the development schemes.

Residents said they are happy about the return of peace. “Taliban are gone and we pray that they don’t come back,” said Tahseen Ullah, a local resident who sells cooked rice in the Miranshah bazaar.

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