Pakistan News

ISLAMABAD: Army troops would soon be guarding sensitive buildings in Islamabad, and patrolling the streets later, as the federal government’s decision to deploy them in aid of the civil administration came into effect on August 1.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had sent shockwaves across the country last week by revealing that the government had issued a notification on July 24 to requisition services of the armed forces under Article 245 of the Constitution.

A day after a military spokesman disclosed on July 26 that the decision to call army was taken in a meeting, on the launch of the military operation against militants in North Waziristan, held on June 15, the minister accused those criticising the decision were making army controversial in a war-like situation. He said 352 troops were being requisitioned to assist police and other civic agencies secure Islamabad.


Also read: Political parties oppose govt move to deploy army in Islamabad


They would be deployed from August 1 at the call of district magistrate and operate under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, he said. And provincial governments could similarly take help of the armed forces to ensure security.

A senior police official told Dawn, on condition of anonymity, that army troops had arrived in Islamabad just after the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb operation in mid June but had to wait for a legal cover for their deployment.

“So the government invoked Article 245 of the Constitution. Now army can be used for patrolling in city, security of important places and buildings,” he said.

“It has been decided to deploy five companies (of army) at the Presidency, the Prime Minister’s House, the Parliament House, buildings of the judiciary, the Foreign Office, Diplomatic Enclave and some other important buildings,” he said.

“One company will be deployed at Margalla Hills because sensitive places can be targeted from the hills. Moreover soldiers will also be deployed at the entry point of federal capital,” he said. “They might be deployed at entry points of capital from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but initially only the latter is being considered for such deployment,” said the police officer.


More on this: No fresh deployment in capital, says army


“Army soldiers will be all over the city and will be able to reach a hotspot in case of an emergency within 10 minutes. The army will coordinate with police and Rangers directly and through the district administration,” he said.

Senior Superintendent of Police Mohammad Ali Nekokara told Dawn that deployment of the soldiers under Article 245 will be finalised after consultation with the district administration.

“I believe that collaboration between the Army, police and district administration became necessary for national security in the wake of Operation Zarb-i-Azb. Police have been collaborating with all agencies. That is why not a single untoward incident has been reported in the federal capital since the launch of Operation Zarb-i-Azb,” he said.As of now SSP Nekokara did not feel the need to put troops on patrol duties in the city, however.

“They can be called to that duty if and when required,” he said.

ISLAMABAD: The German government has announced one million Euro in immediate assistance to support the relief activities of the World Food Programme (WFP) in the north-west of Pakistan through a project ‘Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security and Rebuilding Social Cohesion for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan tribal agency.

"The ongoing military operations have displaced significant parts of the population in that area; a fact which is exhibited in the recent exodus from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata)’s North Waziristan Agency," a spokesperson for German embassy in Islamabad said.

"The assistance would ensure the food security and nutrition of IDP in the north-west, support their return and facilitate recovery and would restore and stabilise the nutritional status of vulnerable populations in Pakistan’s most food-insecure areas," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, sources in the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the organisation has provided medicines worth USD 250,000 for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan tribal region.

The sources further said that the medicines were sufficient to cater the needs of over 114,000 patients and added that necessary equipment was also provided to District Headquarters Hospital Bannu.

Pakistan's military launched Zarb-i-Azb operation against Taliban militants in North Waziristan Agency following a brazen attack on Karachi International Airport and failure of peace talksbetween govt and Taliban nominated negotiators.

Around one million IDPs belonging to 90,750 families had been registered since the beginning of the operation.

BANNU: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday said his government would build 2,000 homes for those displaced in the North Waziristan operation.

He said terrorists were trying to cause irreparable damage to Pakistan, adding that there was still time to take measures to improve conditions in the country.

The chief minister made these remarks while addressing those displaced as a result of the military operation under way in North Waziristan at the camp of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baka Khel.

Accompanied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Mehtab Abbasi, Shahbaz had arrived at the camp which is located in a vast open field a good half-hour drive from Bannu city to meet with the IDPs and distributed gifts among them.

Addressing the IDPs at the camp, Shahbaz said Operation Zarb-i-Azb was necessary to fight against those who wanted to enforce their own ideologies on the people of Pakistan.

Shahbaz moreover announced that a hospital, a university and Danish schools would be constructed in North Waziristan. He also promised that along with these ventures, he would ensure the construction of 2,000 houses in the tribal region.

 

The IDPs had started pouring in at the camp soon after the military launched an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in the North Waziristan tribal region in mid-June.

The assault, which was rumoured for months, followed a brazen insurgent attack on Karachi airport that left dozens dead and a peace process with the Pakistani Taliban in tatters.

North Waziristan had become a major base for the TTP which rose up against the state in 2007, while the United States had long called for action in the area against militant groups targeting Nato forces in Afghanistan.

More than 500 militants and 27 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military, though their death toll for insurgents cannot be independently confirmed.

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Ishaq Dar on Thursday said that talks will be held with Swiss authorities in August to bring back US$200 billion to Pakistan from banks in Switzerland.

In a statement issued here, he said talks would be held in several phases and it could take three to four years to bring back the said money to the country.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senator said that economic situation was fragile when his party took charge of the affairs of the country.

Dar said international monetary institutions had predicted that the country would be bankrupt in 2014, but the PML-N government with good performance proved that Pakistan has a strong economy.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who left office last September after five years, was dogged throughout his tenure by corruption allegations involving Swiss banks dating back to the 1990s.

He was accused along with his late wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, of using Swiss banks to launder $12 million of illegal kickbacks.

Switzerland enacted a new law in 2011 to make it easier for countries to recover assets stolen by politicians and hidden in its banks.

In early 2012, Switzerland said it had returned $1.83 billion in illicitly-placed assets to countries involved in the Arab Spring regime changes, but Pakistan's current tax agreement does not allow it to take advantage of the law.

SIALKOT: Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif has ruled out any timeframe for early completion of the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and said it will continue till elimination of terrorism, militancy and insurgency from the tribal areas.

Talking to journalists at his residence on Sunday, he said that though announcement of any timeframe for the operation was not possible at the moment, the government would take mainstream political parties into confidence over eradication of terrorism and early rehabilitation and repatriation of the people displaced from the NWA.

He said the Zarb-i-Azb operation was continuing successfully with the prayers of the nation. The government wanted an early completion of the operation.

The minister said the nation stood united against terrorism and people were even ready to sacrifice their lives while fighting the militants alongside the armed forces personnel.

He added that the PML-N government was fully aware of the internal and external threats to the country and was making hectic efforts to cope with them. The government was committed to weed out terrorism from the country with the support of the masses.

Mr Asif urged the media to play its pivotal role and perform its national obligation in letter and spirit.

Later, addressing the party workers, the minister said the armed forces were fully capable of uprooting terrorism and ensuring a durable peace and rule of law in the country.

He said the government was also strengthening national institutions through promoting democracy, as there was rule of law in the country.

He also issued orders on several applications submitted by the people of his constituency regarding collective issues.

MPAs Chaudhry Mohammad Ikram, Chaudhry Arshad Warraich and PML-N leaders Mehmoodul Hassan, Babar Khan, Shujaat Ali Pasha and others were also present.

 

The decision has been made; or been made public, at least.

The war is ours, finally. The time for talks, indeed, is over. Pakistan Army has launched an operation against the militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA).

After all these years, and the loss of so many dear lives, we’ve been jolted into action. Over the next few days, details will pour in of exactly what and how the Army hopes to achieve from this operation. And over the next few years, of course, we’ll get to see the ramifications materialise in our daily lives, too. The military operation might be underway in NWA, but it is going to spill over in other parts of the country as well.

This is not the first operation against the militants, and Pakistan is not the first country in the world to launch a retaliatory operation against a domestic threat either. In fact, Zarb-e-Azb is the tenth operation undertaken by the Pakistan Army since 2007. But, the battle lines, ever so murky over the last few years, have finally been drawn clearly. Similar insurgencies have been fought all over the world. Very recently, Sri Lanka has successfully concluded a 30-year struggle with its own rebels. One can only hope that it will not take us that long to do so.

Both are battle-hardened, and have proved their mettle in the arena.

But we shouldn’t feel heroic just yet. Bear in mind that the international community has been coaxing, and sometimes even forcing, us to eliminate the militant threat for a long time now. Pakistan’s secretive harbouring of terrorist groups in the past has not been very conducive for our international image, either. Moreover, the decision to launch the operation, coming at a crucial time, will generate some monumental bickering within our ranks.

Why an operation? Why so late? Why now? Does the recent insurgency in Iraq have anything to do with this? What about talks? Who’s providing the funding? Surely, the missiles will separate the good militants from the bad ones, right? Will we allow the militants to lay down arms and follow the state’s writ? Do the ends justify the means?

Some of the questions will be legitimate, and further our understanding of the conflict; others, not so much. The ‘analysts’ and the TV presenters will run themselves hoarse while providing their ‘analyses’. But know this: there are no easy answers.

It is time for us, as a nation, to stand firm. But while doing so, we must not allow anger to cloud our sensibilities, and lose sight of the broader issue. Zarb-e-Azb is going to define Pakistan’s future, and there are some very pertinent matters that have to be kept in mind.

First of all, as a result of the military conflict, the rest of the country will see a wave of internally displaced persons (IDPs) flocking to the safer areas of the land. While the Pakistani state should provide safe passage to the displaced, stringent checks will have to be made to ensure that militants are not allowed to escape into other regions of the country in this way. Furthermore, if the operation runs long (and I have a feeling it might), the IDPs will have to be integrated into the national mainstream through efficient management of human and physical resources.

Secondly, with the Army busy on the Western frontier, it is time for Pakistan to get more regional and international support behind this endeavour. Rather than playing the oft over-played ‘victim’ card, Pakistan should take ownership, and have the wherewithal to see the operation through. It is an opportunity to improve relations with the neighbours, which will allow us to focus on the issue at hand, and not let our energies be diverted. The safe havens in North Waziristan have been a cause of concern for quite some time, so hopefully the operation will provide the impetus to a broader regional cooperation.

Thirdly, the contested Durand Line, that serves as the territorial border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, must be made less (read non) porous, to not let the militants take refuge in Afghan land during times of heavy conflict. Without an effective control of the boundary, the militants will easily migrate to safer areas across the border. With the NATO forces drawing down as well at the end of this year, this contingency must be addressed.

Both invoke a divine right to the title.

Fourthly, all locations within Pakistan that can provide easy targets for the militants (and our past experience tells us that this list runs very long) to retaliate over the operation in NWA must be given hefty security upgrades. A lot of Pakistani lives have already been lost in the events leading up to this day. Efforts must be made to ensure protection and safety for all citizens. Pakistan is going to be at war now, and a dedicated drive can be launched nation-wide, to educate the masses on the necessity for the operation, and provide guidelines for individual and communal safety.

But… only one of them will be left standing by the end of it.

Lastly (and I’m fearful this might fall on deaf ears) we must learn from our past mistakes. Regardless of the outcome of the operation, we have to understand that it is not just the matter of eliminating a few militants or bombarding some remote hideouts. We know from experience that the enemy is quick to replace their fallen, so the problem here is much deeper. In order to truly eliminate the militant threat, a more moderate and multi-cultural approach has to be adopted in our daily lives, one that leaves no room for any extremist ideologies to flourish anymore.

KARACHI: Karachi airport has been reopened for passengers and all flight operations, said Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa.

Earlier on Sunday, a five-hour attack by militants on the international airport in Karachi left at least 28 dead, including ten terrorists.

The attack was claimed by banned militant organisation Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

"Karachi airport has been cleared and handed over to Civil Aviation Authority and the Airport Security Force," Major Asim said while speaking to Dawn.com.

Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will resume its flight operation by 4 pm Monday afternoon after security clearance, a spokesman of the national flag carrier told APP on phone.

“Four PIA employees were martyred in the terrorist attack,” he said. They were identified as Farrukh Leghari, S.M. Ilyas, Fazal Zubairi and Tanvir A. Khan, he added.

A report on the Karachi airport attack, which was presented to Prime Minister Sharif on Monday, revealed that terrorists wanted to destroy all the aircraft.

It also disclosed that terrorists had entered the airport from two separate locations.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz on Aviation Shujaat Azeem had said that the Karachi airport would be made operational at 4 pm today.

He moreover said that security was heightened at all the airports.

Meanwhile, the CAA spokesman had said that air traffic control operations and other activities would also be resumed with the revival of normal flight operations.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif had ordered authorities to reopen the Karachi airport for public as soon as possible.

He also directed the CAA to facilitate the passengers in every possible manner.

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