Pak launches comprehensive military onslaught against Taliban

Pak launches comprehensive military onslaught against Taliban

Pakistan today launched the much-awaited military operation against foreign and local militants hiding in sanctuaries near the Afghan border, a week after the Pakistani Taliban brazenly attacked the Karachi airport.

Military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said that on the directions of the Government, Armed forces of Pakistan have launched the "comprehensive operation" against terrorists hiding in sanctuaries in the country's restive North Wazirastan Agency.

"The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb," he said.

He did not elaborate on Zarb-e-Azb which means attack by a sharp sword. Azb was the name of sword used by Prophet Mohammed in one of the wars during his life time.

Pakistani fighter jets earlier today pounded insurgent hideouts in North Waziristan, killing about 80 militants in an aggressive response targeting those believed to be responsible for attacking the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi last Sunday.

The army claimed to have killed the Uzbek mastermind of the airport attack in today's assault.

"Around 80 terrorists, mostly Uzbek foreigners were killed in the strikes. An ammunition dump has also been destroyed," the army said.

Pressure had been mounting on Pakistan to respond to the attack. The strikes were the first military response to last Sunday's assault on Karachi airport.

Using North Waziristan as a base, the terrorists had waged a war against Pakistan and had been disrupting normal life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property, he said.

"They had also paralysed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorised the entire peace loving and patriotic local population."

"Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries," the military spokesman said.

He said with the support of the entire nation, and in coordination with other state institutions and law enforcement agencies, these enemies of the state will be neutralised across Pakistan.

The long-awaited operation came after the Taliban attacked Karachi airport, considered a key asset of the country, killing at least 39 persons, including all the 10 Uzbek terrorists.

Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for the attack. 

The operation in North Waziristan was long overdue and it was one of the main source of friction between the US and Pakistan.

Washington has been pressing Pakistan for a long time to flush the militants from North Waziristan as they use the region to launch attacks at the western forces in Afghanistan.Pakistan refused the pressure saying that its forces were thinly spread.

A security official said that the ground offensive is important part of the operation.

It is believed that Pakistan will not differentiate between so called good and bad Taliban this time as military spokesman said that terrorist will be targeted regardless of "hues and colour".

It shows that the Haqqani network, which was involved in several attacks including one at the Indian embassy in Kabul, will also be targeted.

North Waziristan was the only out of seven tribal region where formal operation was not launched.

The security forces have already flushed out militants from Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai and South Waziristan tribal regions, also called agencies.

On January 29, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced the formation of a committee to hold talks with the TTP to find a solution to end the over a decade of terrorism and militancy that has left more than 40,000 people dead.

Following the attack in Karachi, the army had submitted a "range of options" to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to crush terrorism with an iron hand.

Sharif too had a held high-level meeting on June 10 with his national security team following a surge in assaults by Talibani fighters, who had again started owning attacks in Pakistan. 

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