Pakistan military overcomes Taliban in Waziristan

Islamabad, April 25 (IANS) Pakistani troops have overcome Taliban militants and their foreign allies who had set up hideouts on the treacherous terrain in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Hundreds of ground troops started their last phase of one of the most difficult operations in the forest-covered Shawal Valley in February. On April 18, army chief General Raheel Sharif visited the area to praise the forces for their achievement.

With this, the Pakistani Taliban militants are no longer a threat as most of them have either been eliminated or have fled across the border into Afghanistan, Xinhua news agency quoted unnamed officials as saying.

The security forces now control most of the peaks and overlook all narrow routes to check the movement of militants who may still be hiding in inaccessible areas.

But the militants can no longer move to and from their mountainous hideouts as they are under the strict observation of the security forces.

On the ground, the army now controls all major towns including Miranshah and Mir Ali and all main roads in the region. Both towns had earlier been under the ultimate control of the Pakistani Taliban.

It took less than two years for the army to clear most of the areas of the dreaded Taliban groups who had established their fiefdom in North Waziristan, one of the seven tribal regions of Pakistan.

The Pakistani Taliban and foreign groups, including Al Qaeda, had been using the region as a training centre for the suicide bombings carried out across Pakistan and even on the Afghan side of the border.

Most foreign militants had arrived in North Waziristan after the US began military action against the Taliban in late 2001. They took advantage of the loose border control and absence of the Pakistan Army at that time.

Many of the displaced people, who have returned to some areas, have also assured the army that they would not allow armed militants to return to the region.

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced during the operation against armed groups and now the security forces and local administration are focusing on their repatriation and rehabilitation.

The army is involved in the construction of schools, sports complexes and hospitals to develop the area as militancy had hindered all development work.

The security forces are now engaged in largescale combing operations to immediately seek out terrorists, their sleeper cells and facilitators in areas other than the tribal regions.

Some fleeing militants are believed to have taken shelter in parts of Punjab province.

The army confirmed this month that the security forces have conducted some intelligence-based raids in southern parts of Punjab to nab those who had moved there from North Waziristan.

–IANS

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