Khyber-IV: Pak-Army launches anti-ISIS operation in tribal areas

  • The military operation seeks to target terrorist hideouts in "the most critical area in Fata"

RAWALPINDI – Pakistan Army on Sunday announced the launch of a major anti-terrorist operation in tribal areas of Rajgal and Shawwal to flush out Daesh militants attempting to take hold in the Khyber Agency.

“Operation Khyber-IV to wipe out terrorists has been launched in Rajgal valley in Khyber Agency,” Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a press briefing.

Khyber 4 seeks to target terrorist hideouts in what the DG ISPR called “the most critical area in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata)”.

There is no timeline for the operation as yet, Ghafoor said in response to a question.

The ISPR chief said international border with Afghanistan will be fully secured to check infiltration of terrorists and to destroy their hideouts on our side of the border.

The military’s spokesman observed that reports of a joint border operation with Afghan forces had surfaced during a visit made by a top-level United States Congressional delegation. Clarifying the reports, Ghafoor said “the true meaning of this [joint operation] is when both forces conduct operations at the same time. There is a coordinated and complementary operation on their respective sides of the border.”

The army had informed Afghan forces ahead of the launch of the Khyber-4 operation in Rajgal, he said, which the Afghan army would be able to support on their side of the border if they wished.

“No other force will have boots on the ground in our country. All operations are conducted by Pakistani security forces,” he asserted.

He further said about 500 families had been living in this area, which are currently staying in safer places as Temporarily Displaced Persons.

Asif Ghafoor said due to effective security operation in the tribal belt, incidents of terrorism have reasonably been declined in the country during this year.

Turning to Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, the ISPR Chief said 56 major operations and over 9,000 intelligence based operations were launched, while over 1,500 joint check-posts were established across Pakistan.

Commenting on the security situation in Karachi, he said incidents of terrorism have declined by 98 percent.

ISIS presence in Pakistan

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor rejected claims that terrorist group Daesh – or the so-called Islamic State (IS) – has any organised infrastructure in Pakistan.

“We will not allow them to establish themselves. In Afghanistan, yes, it is getting stronger, but we don’t believe it is the same as the Daesh in the Middle East,” he elaborated.

“In Pakistan, the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has shown an alliance with Daesh… Daesh as an organisation does not exist, but if splinter groups of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakstan and other terror groups try to jump on the Daesh bandwagon, we are already taking care of them through other means, like in the Khyber-4 operation,” he said.

Elaborating situation on the Line of Control, Asif Ghafoor said India is committing massive ceasefire violations on LoC to divert world attention from the grave human rights violations and indigenous struggle of Kashmiris in the Occupied Kashmir.

To a question, he said the Army Chief will take a final decision on the appeal of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav at the earliest.

Operations Khyber I, II and III were launched in Khyber Agency during 2014-16.