Khyber-IV, mission accomplished


Reema Shaukat

ENDEAVOURS of Pakistan in eradicating terrorism ENDEAVOURS of Pakistan in eradicating terrorism  step by step are now acknowledged worldwide.  Pakistan has covered a long way in exterminating this menace from its soil with thousands sacrifices to be remembered. In June 15, 2014 Pakistani military announced a wide scale operation against miscreants in the FATA and adjoining areas of North Waziristan after the peace negotiations between the Taliban and the government failed. This military operation was one of its kind, against all the terrorists which belonged to different cliques of TTP, East Turkestan Islamic Movement, Al-Qaeda and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.  Prior to Zarb-i-Azb many other smaller military operations were held in areas where hideouts of insurgents were traced and later annihilated in various phases. Previous military operations were Operation Al-Mizan, Operation Zalzala, Operation Sher Dil, Operation Rah-i-Rast, Operation Rah-i-Haq and lastly Operation Rah-i-Nijat which were successful on smaller scale. While Pakistan continued to face peril of terrorism it was necessary to carry out extensive military manoeuvre which not only breaks the terrorist networks but their abilities to carry out attempts of insurgency throughout the country.  Countrywide military operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was announced in February, 2017 with an objective for “indiscriminately eliminating residual and latent threat of terrorism”. This operation is termed as the last phase of the armed action by country’s security forces against terrorists, which has been ongoing for more than a decade. The aim of the operation is to amalgamate gains of earlier military operations. While operation Radd-ul-Fasaad is continuing on larger scale, Pak military launched Operation Khyber- IV in July 2016. This operation within a span of almost one and half month achieved its objectives and completed desired targets. Operation Khyber was originally announced in 2014 as a part of Pak Army’s operation Zarb-e-Azb extension lead in areas of Khyber. Khyber Agency is among tribal districts which practice semi-autonomy near the Afghanistan border and this area was reported as a strong foothold of insurgents and several militant groups like Al Qaeda, TTP, Ansar-ul-Islam, Lashkar-e-Islam and ISIS. Operation Khyber-IV was announced when the reports of presence of IS in Khyber area started circulating. This operation with forces on ground and support of aerial power paralysed movement of militants and destroyed their safe havens.  The operation Khyber IV was focused on Rajgal Valley in Khyber agency which is located at a height of nearly 4,200 meters above sea level. This area borders one of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province which in past has shown presence of IS and USA in April, 2017 dropped “MOAB” in order to eliminate those hideouts of Daesh. Earlier in different phases of Khyber operations Pak military cleared Taliban held areas but miscreants were still able to carry out acts because of inaccessible terrain consisting of jagged mountains and unreachable itineraries. Though Pakistan Army is quite arduous with tasks in tribal regions close to Afghanistan border and escalations on LoC by other enemy, it still completed this operation with zero tolerance against militants.  The last achievement in this operation was to take charge of highest mountain top Brekh Muhammad Kandao which is near Afghan border. With complete clearance of area going on, Pak Army has established many check posts, terrorists’ hideouts were cleared, and caches of IEDs, arms and ammunition were recovered. DG ISPR while giving details after the successful completion of Khyber-IV said that, the forces have established posts at over 12000-feet altitude – the terrain is riddled with thick forestation.  During the operation, 52 terrorists were killed and 31 injured while 4 surrendered before the Army in Rajgal and Shawwal. Consultation with Afghan forces was also made while the coalition forces have also provided full assistance during the operation. Ground targets have been achieved in Rajgal and Shawwal by the planned, integrated and effective operation against the terrorists. While the clearance operation is going on, hundreds of explosive landmines were defused during and 95 percent affected persons have been returned to their homes.  Operation Khyber-4 has been completed within the framework of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.  The successful completion of this operation depicts strength of armed forces and continuous progress in Radd-ul-Fasaad. Under the Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, 3300 operations were carried out across the country, while overall 124,000 operations have been conducted against terrorists in the country. Initially this Operation Khyber-IV was perceived by Kabul as an operation against them and Afghanistan developed tension with Pakistan.  Though Pakistan launched this operation to clear its land and reduce spacing for groups working under umbrella of IS, Afghanistan should learn that Islamic State group is their enemy too, and other countries which are fighting for peace because of prevalence of IS. It is clear that the overall goal of peace and stability in the region will not be realised without cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Therefore, flawless strategies with regard to foreign policy, economic stability and coherent social security can help in achieving best results against terrorism.— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies,  a think-tank based in

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