Pakistan launches military operation near Afghan border

Pakistan Army firing NASR missile July 2017

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Pakistan Army has launched a major operation in its volatile tribal areas to stop the Islamic State making inroads into areas bordering Afghanistan, the military's spokesman said on Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesman, says an infantry division backed by air force and artillery will clear the Rajgal Valley in the Khyber tribal region.

Alluding to Afghanistan, Ghafoor said across the Khyber Agency border there are safe havens for multiple "terrorist" organisations that are linked to recent attacks in Pakistan, including the Parachinar assault. He said Rajgal Valley is the toughest terrain in FATA. "We will be able to check cross-border movement of terrorists, and our coordination with Afghanistan in this regard is ongoing", he said, as is the fencing of the border which is in its first phase. "Around 500 families had been living in this area, which are now staying in safer places as Temporarily Displaced Persons", he added. "All operations are conducted by Pakistani security forces", he asserted.

The army spokesperson also gave a country-wide breakdown of the operations taken as part of Operation Raddul Fasaad.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 27 major operations and 817 IBOs were carried out. In Sindh, 522 terrorists voluntarily surrendered while fifteen killed.

The operation is carried out against ISIS.

He hinted that another similar chunk called Shawal where concentration of terrorists was also reported, would be another target of the operation in the upcoming days. This is "the most critical area in the [FATA]", said Maj.

The situation along the Line of Control (LoC) has been "especially tense", Ghafoor said, with 580 ceasefire violations in this year alone.

When questioned about the case of convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, the DG ISPR said that the Research and Analysis Wing agent's mercy appeal is pending before the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa. He assured that the decision of the Army Chief will be based on justice.

"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 splinter groups of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan try to jump on the Daesh bandwagon, we are already taking care of them, like through Operation Khyber-4", he said. He said we will also ensure physical and technical surveillance of the fence.

As far as the situation within Afghanistan was concerned, he said that it was a well known fact that the security forces of brotherly and friendly nation were unable to tackle their internal situations.

Clarifying the reports about joint border operations with Afghan forces, the ISPR chief said, "True meaning of this [joint operation] is that both forces will conduct coordinated and complementary operations on their respective sides of the border and at the same time".

To a question, the DG said Raymond Davis has written his book as contractor and such books have their own agendas, which could be exposed later on.

Northwestern Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun lands are awash with weapons and the area remains the most volatile region in the country despite the military's success in driving out many Al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban militants. He said the security forces of Pakistan are very vigilant to foil enemies' designs against CPEC.

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