17,600 militants killed in counter-terrorism operation after 9/11: Pakistan
Pakistan said today that it had killed more than 17,600 militants in counter-terrorism operations started after the 9/11 terror attacks and destroyed their training camps in the restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said at the weekly briefing that Pakistan had also cleared more than 46,000 km of land from terrorists.
"Counter-terrorism operations within Pakistan have cleared 46,378 km of land and eliminated 17,614 terrorists, ensuring that our soil is not used against any other territory; we expect the same from our neighbours," he said.
US President Donald Trump has asked Pakistan to take "decisive action" against terror groups operating from its soil.
Unveiling his first National Security Strategy (NSS), Trump said Pakistan has to intensify its counter-terrorism efforts and help in eliminating terror sanctuaries as America was making "massive payments" to it every year.
Faisal said the ongoing counter-terrorism operation Raddul-Fassad which was launched by Pakistan military last year eliminated terrorists especially those belonging to Tehreek-i-Taiban Afghanistan (TTA) and Haqqani Network (HN).
"Actions against HN include rooting out of terrorist camps in Waziristan, blocking medical assistance to terrorists & breaking their financing & training camps," he said.
Faisal said Pakistan continued to prevent suspected TTA and HN elements from using its soil for any terrorist activity in Afghanistan.
He said that 27 individuals suspected of belonging to TTA and HN were handed over to Afghanistan in November 2017.
Faisal also alleged that "tensions and escalation by India at the Eastern border adversely impact our counter- terrorism efforts".
Pakistan has deployed 202,000 troops for action against militants, the largest counter-terrorism deployment.
Faisal said effective border management remained one of Pakistan's prime objectives in preventing cross-border terrorism.
"Pakistan has 975 border posts to man Pak-Afghan border; Afghanistan has 218," he said.
He said Pakistan was keen to assist the Afghan government while highlighting that on the southern side of the border, "a stretch of 648 km has no check post on the Afghan side".
"Large swathes of ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan are leaving a vacuum for safe havens and terrorist sanctuaries to flourish and launch attacks on Pakistan. Incidence of cross- border terrorist attacks from Afghanistan has increased since 2016, and peaked to 417 in 2017," he said.
The spokesman also said that "Pakistan continues to share intelligence with more than 70 countries" and has lost 75,000 civilians and 6000 soldiers to the scourge of terrorism.
He said Pakistan had one of the highest officer-to- soldier casualty rates globally.
Faisal also said his country had suffered economic losses worth USD 123 billions in the war against terrorism.
He also mentioned the recent fatwa jointly issued by 1,829 highly qualified religious scholars, condemning terrorism and declaring it contrary to the teachings of Islam.
"The fatwa outlaws the use of force by individuals or groups to take up arms against state for imposition of Sharia. The Fatwa also prohibits Pakistani citizens from violating territorial boundaries in the name of helping other armed groups and struggles outside Pakistan, offering intellectual and practical training and recruitment of terrorists," he said.