Peace process in Pakistani tribal area costs huge in recent years

08:51, June 03, 2011      

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Years of military operations in the war against terror in Pakistan's tribal belt has cost heavily for the security forces, a top Pakistani army commander said.

The Peshawar-based 11th Frontier Corps has suffered a casualty of around 2,900 troops in past three to four years in its area of responsibility, with some 9,000 injured among which 2,000 to 3,000 incapacitated, said Commandant Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik on Wednesday.

He was answering questions Wednesday at a press briefing in Mohmand tribal agency bordering Afghanistan when a group of journalists visited the area, some 200 kilometers northwest of Islamabad.

In Mohmand agency, the military operation is still under way but 80 percent of the area is freed from the miscreants who were using the people as human shields and compelled to support them in their attacks on Pakistani soil, the commander said.

The mountainous area with most of the mud houses known as hub of militants because of its geographic position, which could be seen through the window of the military helicopter MI-7 on the way to Mohmand. As the dust stalled down after the landing, security personnel with weapons gave the impression that the war still on its peak but with the presence of locals the impression went off.

"Mohmand agency has eight Tehsils (sectors) and one Tehsil was controlled by the militants. We took them on from January because the miscreants started coming into this area as military operations have been conducted vertically in the tribal area from north to south including Swat valley," Malik said.

The Inspector General of Frontier Constabulary told reporters that "these militants used to come from Kunar province of Afghanistan as it's a bordering area and that is the big problem for the security force even after conducting operations militants appears again using root of Kunar area of Afghanistan."

Despite of all these cross boarder problems, security forces were able to clear 80 percent of the total area of Mohmand agency with the help of political agent and local people, he said, adding that they destroyed six to eight factories producing improvised explosive device (IED) which were functioning in area to target military and civilians and over 250 miscreants have surrendered.

"Anybody who is hostile to Pakistan, who is hostile to my troops in the area, who is destabilizing the area, who is bad for the population of that area, I have to tackle with ... anybody who is destabilizing the peace or using Pakistani soil for terror activities across the border," Malik said.

Talking to Xinhua, Malik said that drone strike in North Waziristan is affecting the military operation as troops on ground need to win the heart and mind of the local tribes and in drone strikes the collateral damages create trust deficit between these tribes and Pakistani authority whether its military or civil.

Malak, a 45-year-old tribal man, said that "we were considering ourselves alone when Taliban controlled this area and everywhere sense of fear roaming in Mohmand agency." "When I recall our past I become tense but now with the help of army and security agencies of Pakistan, we are spending a decent and normal life and now we will join our forces when ever needed," Malak told Xinhua.

The head of the peace committee of Omar Khail tribe told Xinhua that "we have no fear now we were supported by the political administration and security forces we have no complain regarding their support, now ten to twenty thousands members are willing to protect their area, young and elder all are included."

Earlier this week, there were reports in media saying that the United States has demanded Pakistan to conduct the military operation in North Waziristan, a nearby Pakistani tribal region, but army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas contradicted the news reports regarding operation in North Waziristan under U.S. pressure.

"The progress of army is according to the government's instructions and the threats to the sovereignty, self-defense and national interests and wherever problems arisen, army and civil government took the decisions and conducted successful military operations," Abbas told reporters in Mohmand.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition seized by the army were also displayed to the media during the visit to Jhanda and Mohmand Gat areas of Mohmand agency, where the Pakistani army conducted the operation Brkhna (Light) in January this year.

Source: Xinhua
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