Govt says no civilian killed in Shawal air strikes

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for State and Frontier Regions General (R) Abdul Qadir Baloch denied the reports saying civilians were killed in last week’s air strikes in Shawal valley of North Waziristan.

“There is a very small civil population in Shawal valley which is yet to be evacuated, but I assure you there were no reports of civilian casualties”, Baloch told a news conference in Islamabad.

He also said that Mullah Fazaullah-led militants hiding in Afghanistan were planning attacks on the Bajaur tribal region. He added that Pakistan Army would foil their plans of capturing Bajaur agency.

General (r) Baloch further said targeted operations against militants’ hubs in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi would also be carried out by Police, Rangers and FC. He added that the military could also participate if needed.

Baloch claimed the ongoing operation in North Waziristan was “bigger than the war of 1971” and victory was the only option against terrorists.

He however admitted that the government had failed to mobilise the nation over the IDPs issue but said they would be rehabilitated through local resources. He said the total number of IDPs from North Waziristan could reach two million.

Pakistan’s military launched a large-scale operation named ‘Zarb-i-Azb’ against Taliban militants in North Waziristan tribal region after a brazen attack on Karachi International Airport, which was claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and failure of peace talks between government and TTP nominated negotiators.

North Waziristan lies in the northwestern parts of Pakistan and is one of the country’s seven semi-autonomous tribal regions which has been considered to be a major hub of militants.