PESHAWAR -- Pakistan's army is prepared and professional whether countering terrorism in military operations or serving as peacekeeping forces throughout the world, military leaders say.
"Our experience of counter-terrorism operations has made us battle hardened, which is a valued add-on in operational preparedness," Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said January 23 while visiting troops in Multan Garrison.
He praised troops' participation in on-going counter-terrorism operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and for "keeping themselves fully trained and prepared to thwart challenges of conventional war".
"I am proud to be the chief of army staff of a brave and highly professional army," Bajwa said.
"The professionalism and expertise of the Pakistan Army can be traced back to the epic performance they exhibited during past wars and times of need," said Col. (ret.) G.B. Shah Bokhari, a Peshawar-based security analyst and columnist.
This high standard of professionalism and sense of duty also earned Pakistani forces a respectable position among UN peacekeeping forces, he told Pakistan Forward.
Pakistan has a long history of involvement in UN peacekeeping missions and consistently has been one of the top troop-contributing nations.
Since 1960, Pakistan has contributed more than 160,000 troops in 41 missions spread over 23 countries, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported in June. Serving in these missions for peace, 145 Pakistani troops, including 23 officers, lost their lives.
Currently, 6,774 Pakistani troops, 103 Pakistani military experts and 279 Pakistani police are serving under the UN peacekeeping umbrella, according to the official tally.
"The role of the Pakistan Army in peacekeeping missions [...] is a source of pride for the nation and is [...] respected," Bokhari said.
Victories against terrorism
"The Pakistan Army's victories against terrorism have not only built confidence among the nation [...] but have also drawn international attention and worldwide appreciation," Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, a Peshawar-based security analyst, told Pakistan Forward.
For example, more praise for the troops came from US Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, who visited Miranshah, North Waziristan, with Bajwa January 9.
Nicholson appreciated the Pakistan Army's successful counter-terrorism operations, including the on-going Operation Zarb-e-Azb, according to an ISPR statement.
The many sources of inspiration to troops include the leadership qualities of the commanders, Shah said.
"It is well known that the army's higher echelons prefer to be with their troops during celebrations [of Eid], which reflects their standard of professionalism and their priorities," he said.
Tribes support army
Most of the tribe members were doubtful of their future survival after witnessing extremism and its various manifestations for many years, said Zamir Shah, a medical doctor practicing in Jamrud Tehsil, Khyber Agency.
"Peaceful and patriotic tribal people faced looming threats, while some saw daylight kidnapping and abduction of family members for ransom, forcing them to flee their homes for safe places," he told Pakistan Forward.
"Fifty percent of my patients were suffering from psychological trauma after witnessing violence and terror incidents," he said.
Now, thanks to the Pakistan Army's counter-terrorism operations, the situation has improved, he said.
"We tribal people are the direct beneficiaries of the victories of law enforcers who obliterated extremism and established the rule of law in our areas," Shah said.
Most of the militancy-hit areas of Jamrud, including Lashora, Chapri, Jabba and Shahkas, which were virtually no-go areas, began to thrive after the security forces' cleansing operations, he said.
"Routine activities have started in these areas and people have come out from their trance of fear and uncertainty," he said.
"All that has been achieved is the result of the sacrifices and matchless spirit of security forces, who fought a fierce battle with professional exuberance and unflinching determination," he said.