Amid the attack on Karachi and the open acceptance of Taliban of the attack Government and the military has finally decided to start the all out operation on the terrorists. The first phase of the operation will start in North Wazirsistan see map below
Pakistan Army said on Sunday it had launched a comprehensive operation against local and foreign militants in North Waziristan, the area is sealed off and Afghan National Army has also been requested to close the border to to plug possible escape routes across the border.
“On the directions of the government, the Armed Forces of Pakistan have launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan. The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb”, head of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, said in a statement. The name Zarb Azb means the “attack of Azab” Azab being the name of the sword of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
The army claimed to have killed more than 50 militants, most of them being Uzbeks, the figure was raised to 150 later. Abu Abdur Rehman Almani, an expert on improvised explosive devices, associated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was also among the killed.
No independent confirmation of the number of casualties or the identities of those killed is available. The ISPR statement said that North Waziristan had been isolated from other tribal regions, including South Waziristan and Kurram to block the movement of militants within and outside the tribal region.
It also said that troops had been moved to cordon off terrorists’ bases in Miramshah and Mirali, while announcements would be made to provide for an orderly evacuation of local people for which the political administration and Fata Disaster Management Authority had taken appropriate logistic and administrative measures for registration and their settlement in camps.
Inside the tribal region, however, there was little indication of any troops movement after an overnight bombings and artillery shelling in Mirali. In Miramshah, some troops were seen leaving the fort but they returned immediately
In Mirali, some troops left their fort to establish a post on a hilltop in Hassokhel. A roadside bomb wounded three soldiers which prompted immediate artillery shelling. The troops, however, managed to set up a post as helicopter gunships hovered above to provide air cover.
The announcement regarding the launch of the military operation came as a surprise to the tribesmen in North Waziristan, who were expecting a tribal jirga which had managed to get 15 days from the military authorities to expel foreign militants from the restive region. The 15-day deadline was to expire on June 21.
It was not clear why the military had agreed to grant 15 days to the tribal jirga to mediate expulsion of foreign militants, but officials said the audacious attack on Jinnah International Airport brought forward the date of the military operation.
“The whole process was speeded up. The attack on the airport tilted the balance,” the official said.
Maulvi Gul Ramzan, a key member of the jirga, said the military was no longer willing to honour their commitment and said the people were now free to leave Waziristan. Residents say thousands of people are desperately waiting to leave but have been caught in a helpless situation owing to the curfew that was put in place on Saturday morning.
Insiders said that additional forces had been brought in to further augment one division of the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan but it took the military quite some time to convince a somewhat sceptic Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that it would be able to cope with the possible blowback from North Waziristan operation.
“The prime minister had made up his mind but he had asked the military if our security forces, civil as well as armed
forces, could deal with the fallout from North Waziristan,” one insider who attended the last two crucial meetings told Dawn. “He wanted to be assured that we can cope with the blowback and we had good intelligence on the ground to finish the job,” the insider said.
It was only after Army Chief General Raheel Sharif assured him that arrangements had been made to deal with any eventuality, did the prime minister agree to give the go-ahead to the operation in the last week’s meeting, the insider said.
Also, the prime minister wanted to know if there was good enough intelligence on the ground to make the operation a success. He also wanted to know the duration of the operation, coming so close to the holy month of Ramazan later this month, amid sweltering heat. The military, the insider said, projected the operation to last three weeks but some officials now say that it might extend to the middle of Ramazan and even
beyond it. “The duration of the operation is determined by several factors, it would be premature to predict its closure in a specific timeframe,” a security official said.
Insiders said the military machine would start rolling under the overall command of the Commander, 11th Corps, Lt.
Gen. Khalid Rabbani, as soon as arrangements were made to evacuate the local population. Except for the roadside bombing in Mirali, there was no reaction and no resistance in Miramshah and Mirali. “Not a single bullet was fired,” a security official