Pakistan has launched an offensive to “wipe out terrorists” in the Rajgal Valley in its Khyber District, which borders Afghanistan, where Daesh is “getting stronger,” according to an army spokesman.
The district is part ofÂ the Federally Administered Tribal Areas ofÂ Pakistan (FATA).
The operation, Khybar-4, will cover aboutÂ 250 square kilometers inÂ which pro-Daesh groups likeÂ Jamaatul Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, asÂ well asÂ the Pakistani Taliban, have become entrenched. This is “the most critical area inÂ the [FATA],” said Maj. General Asif Ghafoor, director general ofÂ Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations onÂ Sunday.
Daesh’s presence acrossÂ the border is increasing, “necessitating this operation toÂ eliminate influence ofÂ Daesh being exported toÂ Pakistan throughÂ Rajgal valley,” he said, according toÂ the Dawn news agency.
Ghafoor rejected the notion that Daesh has any organized presence inÂ Pakistan, however.
“We will not allow them toÂ establish themselves. In Afghanistan, yes, it is getting stronger, butÂ we don’t believe it is the same asÂ the Daesh inÂ the Middle East,” he said.
“In Pakistan, the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has shown an alliance withÂ Daeshâ€¦ Daesh asÂ an organization does not exist, butÂ if splinter groups ofÂ the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and other terror groups try toÂ jump onÂ the Daesh bandwagon, we are already taking care ofÂ them throughÂ other means, likeÂ in the Khyber-4 operation,” he said.
Though Afghan forces have been informed and Afghanistan may support the operation onÂ their side ofÂ the border, the offensive is a purely domestic affair, Ghafoor said.
“No other force will have boots onÂ the ground inÂ our country. All operations are conducted byÂ Pakistani security forces,” he asserted. He also couldn’t resist a minor dig atÂ Pakistan’s troubled neighbor: “If the Afghan army were asÂ capable asÂ the Pakistan Army, then maybe the issue [of terrorism] would be resolved sooner,” Ghafoor said.
Pakistan is inÂ the midst ofÂ a push, dubbed Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, toÂ snuff outÂ terrorism withinÂ the country. Khyber-4 falls underÂ the umbrella ofÂ this operation, asÂ does a large-scale project toÂ fence the border withÂ Afghanistan and Iran. Some 46 major operations have been launched underÂ Radd-ul-Fasaad so far, Ghafoor noted, and more thanÂ 1,760 joint checkposts established inÂ coordination withÂ police and other law enforcement agencies.
“We are working brick byÂ brick toÂ bring normalcy back toÂ Pakistan withÂ the support and inÂ support ofÂ other institutions,” he said.