07
May

Fighting for Peace

Published in Hilal English May 2015

Written By: Lt Col Muhammad Azam

(The story of brave troops of FC Balochistan who killed a wanted terrorist, Usman SaifUllah Kurd in an action in Quetta)

It was business as usual in Quetta. People were preparing to move out for routine works on a cold morning of February 15, 2015. Streets were filled with the people early in the morning as part of the local Baloch culture. In the same hustle and bustle, somewhere in the Headquarters of Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan, troops were gearing up to move to Sariab Road – a busy place located in the southern part of Quetta City. An intelligence based information had indicated presence of a high value target in Sariab area – one of the most wanted member of banned organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Usman Saifullah Kurd.

The matter merited quick planning and preparation. But such situations weren't new for the brave men of FC Balochistan, who, a number of times before had been into such kind of situations. Parties were immediately formed and mission was explained by the respective commanders to the troops. Troops moved to the location from different directions. The action had begun.

In a local hotel on Sariab Road, people were consuming their routine meal. Among them were also Usman Saifullah Kurd and his two associates, who were having their food. Troops surrounded the area and began a quick search operation. The elusive nature of the target and lack of time warranted a bold action, leaving no space for any error.

Troops were given orders to move in the hotel to nab Kurd. Upon seeing the troops entering the hotel and spotting the danger, he and his associates resorted to indiscriminate firing. As a result, a bullet struck Sepoy Abdul Wahid’s leg while another bullet made way to Sepoy Kamran ud Din’s left shoulder. Despite heavy fire by the terrorists, the brave troops responded back and as a result, all three militants were killed on the spot. This timely action of FC Balochistan not only led to the elimination of top LeJ terrorist and his accomplices, but also sent a strong message about the commitment of security forces to the cause of uprooting terrorism.

Killing of Usman Saifullah Kurd indicates a firm resolve of security forces to take action against all terrorist outfits that had let loose a reign of terror in different parts of Pakistan for over a decade now. Kurd was wanted for his involvement in 36 high profile cases of terrorism including suicide attacks and bombing at Shia mosques in Quetta and other areas of Balochistan. He was also known to be the mastermind of January 30, 2015, Imam-Bargah blasts in Lakhi Dar area of Shikarpur (Sindh) in which 58 people had been killed.

Kurd’s killing was welcomed by all segments of the society who look for the peace to return and are against terrorism. Following his killing, the sectarian attacks in Quetta and its surroundings have considerably been reduced and people have taken a sigh of relief.

10
June

Conduct of National Integrated Counter Terrorism Course

Report By: Lt Col Amjad Raza Khan

For the last decade or so Pakistan has remained a frontline state in war against terrorism. Pakistan paid the highest price in this war in terms of human life and resources, yet never flinched its claim on authority and writ of the state within its boundaries. While all Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) of the country are making best efforts to eliminate terrorism, their capacity building to respond to such wide spectrum of threat remains a challenge. Pakistan Army having hard earned combat experience in war against terrorism has evolved a comprehensive training regime and part of this advanced and specialized training is imparted at National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) Pabbi, near Mangla Cantonment.

This institution imparts specialized pre-induction training to Pakistan Army units earmarked for FATA and Swat. Under the same context, Pakistan Army offered the counter terrorism training services of NCTC to LEAs including Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Defence Services Guards, Strategic Plans Division, Punjab Rangers, Frontier Corps KPK, Anti Narcotics Force and police forces of Punjab, KPK, Sindh, Balochistan, AJ&K and Islamabad. NCTC is organizing a series of national level integrated courses for LEAs/ other services, named as National Integrated Counter Terrorism Course (NICTC). The training is conducted under direct supervision of Kharian Division and Mangla Corps. Lt Gen Mian Hilal Hussain and Maj Gen Zafar-ul-Haq have been carrying out frequent visits of NCTC and have directly been monitoring the training activities. Two such courses have so far been organized at NCTC. First course was run from 2-21 March 2015, whereas second course was organized from 13 April - 9 May 2015.

Closing Ceremony of the NICTC-I was held on March 18, 2015. Gen Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff graced the occasion as the chief guest. Closing ceremony of NICTC-II was held on May 7, 2015.

Overall three best trainees of both the courses and one best individual from each department was awarded medal with cash awards. Beside this, COAS also awarded a shotgun each to medal winners and Rs. 1 lac to overall best trainee.

  • Departments / organisations/ Services Trained at NCTC by Pak Army
  •  Pakistan Navy
  •  Pakistan Air Force
  •  Strategic Plans Division
  •  Pakistan Rangers (Punjab)
  •  Frontier Corps KPK
  •  Defence Services Guards
  •  Anti Narcotics Force
  •  Punjab Police
  •  KPK Police
  •  Sindh Police
  •  Balochistan Police
  •  AJ&K Police
  •  Islamabad Police

Training Objectives – NICTC

• To develop physical fitness and mental robustness of the participants.
• Develop instant reflex response to impromptu situation including crisis management.
• Improvement of weapon handling and firing skills.
• Develop understanding of entire spectrum of dynamic nature of threat.
• Learning to fight as buddy pair and small group.
• Develop clear understanding of various aspects of base/installation security.
• To develop skills to appreciate the terrain and use it to own advantage for cover and fire.
• Mastering the skills of fighting in Build Up Area.
• Proficiency in negotiating various obstacles and field craft.

 

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At the start of each course, initial evaluation of trainees was carried out to gauge their proficiency level in firing, physical efficiency and theoretical knowledge. Majority of trainees were found wanting in these domains, however, towards the end of the courses, a remarkable improvement was assessed in all fields.

 

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NICTC played a vibrant role in sharpening the basic combat skills of trainees required to combat terrorism. Trainees displayed a high standard of dedication, diligence and professional commitments throughout the course and enjoyed the pleasure of learning. They will surely become useful assets for their departments in implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) and prove their mettle, whenever needed. The environment and standard of training being imparted by Pakistan Army was highly appreciated by all LEAs and services. Consequently, frequent requests are being received by different institutions to run similar courses in future as well. The capacity building of LEAs and sister services is a sacred task, national obligation and the need of time. Pakistan Army and NCTC shall never be short of steps to support the implementation of NAP and continue to play its role by organizing such trainings in future as well.

10
June

A Year of Success

Report By: Maj Kanwal Kiani

Pakistan is fighting the war against terror for more than a decade. The war saw many turns during this period but year 2014 will be remembered in history as the nation decided to give final and decisive blow to the terrorists in the shape of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency (NWA). Though government gave peace and reconciliation a last chance in the start of 2014, yet, 20 major acts of terror conducted from January 29 to June 8, 2014, in which 195 Pakistanis embraced shahadat, brought everyone to the conclusion that the terrorist organizations were not sincere to the dialogue process.

 

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Operation Zarb-e-Azb was initiated as a national effort to reinstate peace and order across the country. The operation was a step towards restoring the writ of government, destroying the sanctuaries of terrorists of all hue and colours, and shaping the environment for sustainable peace and development in the FATA and elsewhere in the country. In addition to the military aspects, the issue of Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs) was very important, and indeed most sensitive. The mass of TDPs of NWA was marked as the second largest internal displacement during the recent years after Swat. It was a national responsibility warranting response from all individuals and institutions of the country.

The operation continues to date as planned with many success stories and will continue till the elimination of all terrorists from Pakistan. The safe return home of the TDPs to their native towns has also begun and will be executed in phases. However, their safe return is a function of national passion and merits the maximum amount of support extended to them by each of us.

 

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Since June 15, 2014, when the operation commenced, it has been successfully progressing in flushing out the terrorists and clearing the no-go-areas. About 90% of areas including Mir Ali, Miran Shah, Shawa, Spinwam, Ghulam Khan, Boya, Degan, Dosalli, and Ghariom, to name a few, have been cleared and nexus between TTP and its affiliates is conked out. During the conduct of this particular operation, 316 soldiers have laid their lives whereas 2729 terrorits have been killed.

Usman Peerzada (Actor)

usman_peerzad.jpgOur armed forces have been at war since long. It’s not something small, whole nation along with army is fighting multiple enemies to safeguard frontiers of motherland. Pakistan Army has sent a clear message that how strong we are in defending our country by showing their valour in combat. I am so proud of our soldiers and all the sacrifices they have made while defending the country and nation.

 
Urwa Hocane (Film/TV Artist)

I would like to congratulate Pak Army and our entire nation on the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Proud of Pak Army for taking this initiative of cleaning up terrorism from the core. As the citizen of this country and daughter of an army officer, I am really thankful to Pak Army for this unconditional security and safety I feel. I salute our soldiers for the sacrifices they render for us every day regardless of any appreciation or "anything" in return.

 
Shafaq Omer (Teacher Froebel's International School)

The operation has been a success all along. The brave soldiers of the soil are fighting with passion, loyalty and dedication to stem out the evil of terrorism for the better future of the young generation.The sacrifices made by Pakistan Army will be written in the pages of history with golden words.

 

 
Dr. Abid Suleri (Executive Director SDPI)

Now or never. I support Zarb-e-Azb for safety of our future generations and peaceful Pakistan.

 

 

 
Ashir Azeem (Actor/Producer)

Through Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistan Army has taken a bold, extremely necessary and long overdue step in the right direction to reclaim the rule of law in our own land and no longer to be held hostage by rouge armed groups.This step has raised the image of Pakistan Armed Forces both within and outside the country.Pakistanis stand firmly behind their army in this initiative to crush this subhuman enemy of Pakistan.Pakistan Zindabad!

 
Ali Moeen Nawazish (Student/Educationist)

This has been a watershed and landmark moment in the history of our country. The state finally acted against the menace which has plagued us for the last decade. It is important that the success of this operation continues and we form a narrative of patriotism as per our constitution. We must expand this brilliant effort to counter not only the militant but also the ideological elements. We must not let biases or exceptions shape this mission. This mission must continue as it is doing today. We need to bring back the days when our schools didn't need security guards and our children could play on the streets. Our future and our country's future depends on this.

 
Ghania Ahmed (Student Army Public School, Rawalpindi)

After the Peshawar attack, our school received a number of threats and we panicked. At times our school was closed and at times it was opened. We couldn't manage our syllabus. All of our major and minor problems were completely solved by Pak Army and its efforts in Zarb-e-Azab. I feel we are back in “good old days". Thank you Pak Army. Stay blessed. I and my school fellows will always be indebted to you.

 
Dr. Uzma Anjum (Faculty Member Quaid-i-Azam University)

This ongoing military operation is a commendable action by our army. It will help to develop peace not only in our country but will also have far reaching implications on the socio-economic development of the whole region.

 
Dr. Nadeem Omar Tarar (Director National College of Arts Rawalpindi Campus)

Operation Zarb-e-Azb signifies a profound change in the hearts and minds of Pakistani citizens. It stands for safeguarding the vision of Pakistan's founding father, for a free and fair society. Zarb-e-Azb is grounded in a moral consensus that knowledge sharing and dialogue are the key components of peaceful coexistence of diverse ideologies. The successful conclusion of the military operation, In-shah-Allah, will lead to strengthening of the social fabric of Pakistani society, nurturing peace and tolerance. We must reiterate our commitments not to harbour terrorism in our homes, educational institutions, and work places.

 
COAS YOUTH PACKAGE

• 14000 youth from FATA will be recruited in Pakistan Army in next 5 years.

• 1500 students from FATA will be accommodated in Army Public Schools across the country.

• Students from FATA will be granted admissions on quota basis in the Military Colleges.

• Technical skills to the people of FATA will be imparted at technical training institutes in all major cantonments.

• Arrangements being worked out for large scale overseas employment of youth from FATA.

 

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif while commenting about the operation said, “I feel that until and unless this country is cleansed from terrorism, this war and effort will not stop, no-one should be doubtful of this."

Gen Raheel Sharif, COAS, during his address to the passing out parade at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul on October 18, 2014, said, " Zarb-e-Azb is not merely an operation, it is a concept, it is a resolve and a commitment of the nation. The commitment is to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism once and for all. Pakistan Army is the cutting-edge of this resolve. A resolve that is currently evident in North Waziristan, where the military operations are delivering decisive results. Pakistan’s Law Enforcement Agencies aided by intelligence agencies are also playing a commendable role in hunting down terrorists and their networks across the country."

 

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Several media personnel, political leaders/ representatives and ambassadors of friendly countries visited the areas and have lauded the efforts and resolve of Pakistani Armed Forces in their fight against terrorism and paid rich tribute to the martyrs. To ensure safe return of around 7.5 lac TDPs to their homes, Pakistan Army has chalked out an elaborate programme to settle these people in their homes. Hundreds of projects including health, education, markets and hospitals have been planned for these TDPs. In addition to this, a comprehensive youth package was announced by COAS during his visit to the area. Protected and dignified repatriation of TDPs to their homes under safe environment has already been started on March 31, 2015 and will be completed by Nov 2016.

Zarb-e-Azb is our national resolve and people of Pakistan never accepted the ideology of TTP and their associates. The operation will continue till elimination of terrorism from Pakistan.

 

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20
June

From Fall To Rise

Written By: Syed Saim A. Rizvi

It was hot and humid evening at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi on 8 June 2014. Rush was as usual as I checked in and settled down in the waiting lounge with my cup of coffee; looking at runway lights through the glass. I was proceeding to Frankfort via Dubai on Emirates flight number EK 603. As the announcement about the flight was made, all passengers and crew boarded the aircraft through the tube. With the light music on, and seat belts tight, the aircraft slowly moved to the runway while crew was busy in pre-take-off announcements. Suddenly a huge blast was heard outside. The aeroplane came to a sudden halt. It was all quiet in the aircraft; everyone looking at each other and guessing; what had happened.

While we looked through the windows of the aircraft, few passengers spotted huge flames at far distance and started shouting loudly in anxiety, though some of them were dead silent. One could observe the real shape of fear in the eyes of passengers; uncertain, and in few cases, waiting for the death to come. I was myself terrified. My mind was fast thinking about the proceedings; an accidental explosion, a blast away from airport, and in the worst scenario, I was not ready to believe my own though, the Airport was under terrorist attack. Few of the passengers were also loudly voicing their opinion that it was a bomb blast. We had no source at that time to get confirmation about the happening outside. The crew had the same feeling, too. I told the individual sitting beside me to remain positive as it could be a tyre blast or some other thing; I also assured him about tight security measures that normally airports adopt; though all type of wrong opinions were going through my mind. We had passengers from all age groups and gender on board. The panic was too high, so was uncertainty.

Suddenly the loud noise of firing was heard and by then everyone was sure of one thing; it was terrorism. Board lights were completely off and so were the lights outside although it wasn't complete darkness. I was only trying to measure the distance and direction of firing; guessing if someone was coming to attack our plane. It was horrible situation because sometimes, I thought they were near to us and sometime I would get happy by thinking oppositely. All were gloomy until, in about 10-15 minutes time, we saw the troops of Pakistan Army at the runway. Someone shouted, “look! Army is there for us.” This news was like the cool breeze on board, the feeling of life assurance was visible, and the happiness wrapped into the fear could be felt. It was after some time that army commandos arrived in the aircraft and asked for the well being of the passengers. It was smiles all around and everyone loudly thanked Allah. We were escorted out of aircraft to a safe place by brave jawans of Pak Army. The soldiers had encircled us in a way that any bullet coming would have hit them first. Their gesture brought tears in my eye. Although the sounds of firing could be heard but now we were feeling secured. It was during same time that someone loudly raised the slogan, “Nara e Haideri - Ya Ali; Pakistan Army Zindabad.” That was the sign of trust of people on security force in such a tensed situation although we were still not safe completely.

I have never seen and heard of such an accurate, well equipped, calculated, quickest and responsive Army operation ever. However, it was done by none else, but Pak Army. We civilians may have seen something similar in Hollywood action movies, but how quickly and perfectly Pakistan Army had controlled the situation and saved thousands of peoples at the airport, was tremendous and highly professional. In fact I have not enough suitable words to describe their attitude with each individual; so respectful, courteous and full of care that every one acknowledged it and was full of praise. We felt as being the most VIP persons of the state.

Each one of us, including foreigners felt proud of Pakistan Army. Thanks to Allah to give us such a strong protection shield, 'The Pakistan Army.' The public now has one clear understanding; if anyone can save Pakistan and this country from terrorism, it is Pakistani Army assisted by other security forces. The people at the aircraft and airport were criticizing different organs of the state for delaying operations against the terrorists who could dare to attack even the airport.

In my opinion, the confidence of public over Army grew thousand times more after the airport incident. However, citizens are now looking towards Army to root out the terrorism from Pakistan, once for all. This country has all potential to become a vital and productive country in the world. In the end, after Allah, I must thank Pakistan Army for saving me and thousands of other precious lives. Pakistan Army Zindabad, Pakistan Paindabad.

The writer can be reached at twitter: @saim_riz

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