General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army announced yesterday that once the terrorists are exterminated from the South Waziristan Agency, the Pak army will continue their rehabilitation efforts there. He claimed that the army is currently undertaking a number of major infrastructure projects in the region, which will improve the lives of ordinary people in the South Waziristan and will uplift their socio-economic status.
Gen Kayani made the announcement at the ceremony organized to mark the opening of the Tank-Gomal-Tanai-Wana road. He also inaugurated the new cadet college, which has started from the town of Spinkai, very close to the Pak-Afghan border. The cadet college, which was built at a cost of close to $10 million, is the second such institution in the region.
Kayani argued that the villagers had demanded the elongation of the army presence in South Waziristan, as they were fearful of the Taliban backed militants taking out revenge on them. He said that although the army doesn’t want to initiate any military operations against the militants, sometimes they are forced to act, due to the frequent harassment of the villagers by the insurgents.
Commenting on the newly built road, Kayani said that it will help to boost the Pak-Afghan bilateral trade, a major part of which will pass through the South Waziristan agency. He further claimed that the newly built road will reduce the distance to Afghanistan by as much as 220 miles. A part of the funding for the new road came from the US, while the remainder was borne by the Armed Forces.
Out of the proposed 290 miles of the Tank-Gomal-Tanai-Wana road, a total of 135 miles have been built by the authorities so far. The road runs from the city of Tank, in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province to Wana, located in the South Waziristan Agency, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). From Wana, the road continues towards Afghanistan.
Karen Freeman, an official from the USAID Mission in Pakistan claimed that the US is helping as much as it could, to renovate the infrastructure facilities in South Waziristan. He claimed that the USAD has so far spent close to $260 million, on the infrastructure projects in the FATA.