Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif, visited Swat on Friday for the inauguration of Swat cantonment.
Army chief also inaugurated Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Saidu Sharif and Army Public School in Swat. He also met tribal elders there. DG ISPR Hamza Suraj Bajwa and Core Commander Peshawar also accompanied him.
President Mamnoon Hussain had last year approved a plan to establish a cantonment in Swat as a permanent post for the army in the valley, which was ‘cleared’ of extremists and terrorists by the armed forces about seven years ago.
Speaking on occasion, COAS said a new era of development would begin in Swat with the inauguration of the army cantonment. He hailed the sacrifices rendered by locals and army soldiers and said it helped to restore peace in the valley. a General Raheel reaffirmed army’s commitment to continue playing a solid role in bringing enduring peace and security in Swat. He hoped that the establishment of cantonment in Swat would act as a deterrent for terrorists, boost the confidence of law enforcement agencies and help bring a permanent sense of security with readily available force to counter any threat to peace.
The COAS stressed that the development of Fata and Malakand is a priority, being executed as a well-considered strategy. Pakistan Army, he highlighted, has undertaken over 700 mega and minor projects in the social sector in the areas where military operations were carried out. These projects are aimed to improve the quality of life and address the problem of militancy on a long-term basis, he maintained.
Around 300,000 people lived in Mingora until the Taliban occupied the town in early May 2009 when the Army first launched an offensive in Swat. By July 2009 the army declared the region back under their control, saying the rebels had all been killed, captured or fled, but more than 20,000 troops remained in Swat and adjacent districts.