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Peace talks first option but Taliban attacks intolerable: COAS Raheel

22 December, 2013

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PESHAWAR: Reiterating full support to the ongoing government-led peace process with the Taliban, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Saturday vowed to not tolerate any more terrorist attacks.

During his visit to the Corps Headquarters in Peshawar, he emphasised that terrorist attacks would not be tolerated and they would be responded effectively, said a statement issued by the ISPR.

Ruling out military action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as its first preference, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government has promised to persuade insurgents to lay down their weapons through peace negotiations.

The prime minister, earlier this week, said the government would use "force as a last resort".

The Pakistani Taliban, however, have dismissed the government's peace initiative saying they have information that plans are already under way for a military operation, adding that insurgents were ready for battle.

Gen Sharif laid a flower wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada on his arrival in the capital of troubled Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP) province bordering Afghanistan.

"He paid tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the defence of motherland," said the statement.

Later, he was briefed in detail at the Corps Headquarters about various operational, training and administrative matters.

The army chief appreciated the resolve displayed by the officers and men during fight against terrorism and bringing stability to the militancy-hit areas.

The clashes between militants and Pakistani security forces, erupted following a suicide attack on a military checkpoint which killed at least five soldiers and wounded 34 others on Wednesday night, have seen at least 53 people dead in North Waziristan.

Still unclear is whether the individuals who have been killed in this week's clashes are civilians or militants.

The entire chain of events that has left the whole of North Waziristan under a curfew for four days is shrouded in confusion.

Appreciating the infrastructure building and reconstruction work being undertaken by the Pakistan Army for socio-economic benefit of the local population of FATA and Malakand, the COAS instructed all concerned to ensure quality and timely completion of these projects.

Earlier, on his arrival in Peshawar, the COAS was received by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani. This was army chief's maiden visit to the Corps Headquarters after assuming the office of COAS.

End.

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