PESHAWAR -- Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa Wednesday (November 29) met with border troops and ulema, sending a clear message that there is no space for terrorism and its supporters in Pakistan.
"Pakistan belongs to all Pakistanis without any religious, provincial, tribal, linguistic, ethnic, sectarian or any other identity, and the ulema and scholars' role in fighting terrorism and restoration of peace is commendable," Bajwa said while speaking to ulema and tribal elders in Peshawar.
The ulema and tribal elders from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa condemned terrorism and pledged their continued support of security forces striving to bring peace and stability to Pakistan.
Religious scholars have always been of great support in shunning the negative narrative of religion used by a few extremist elements, said Islamabad-based defence analyst Lt. Gen. (ret.) Amjad Shoaib.
"Continued interaction with them will be more fruitful for sure," he told Pakistan Forward.
Continuing co-operation with ulema "will make the Pakistan-Afghanistan region safer", said Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah of Peshawar, former security secretary for FATA.
"Afghanistan must reciprocate on stringent border security and boost the ... fight against extremist tendencies at home for lasting peace -- which is a must for both Pakistan and Afghanistan," he told Pakistan Forward.
Strict border security
Earlier in the day, Bajwa visited the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Bajaur Agency, where he commended the armed forces for their ongoing efforts to shut off terrorist infiltration routes.
He praised progress on border fencing, the construction of new forts and posts along the border and the development of new entry points to facilitate cross-border movement of the local population.
Strict border management has reduced the frequency of terrorist acts on Pakistani soil, as terrorists now are unable to escape and shuttle across the border as in the past, security analysts say.
The credit goes to Bajwa's focus on border security, said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ijaz Awan, a Peshawar-based security and defense analyst.
"The militants had been shuttling between Pakistan and Afghanistan as the two countries went after them," he told Pakistan Forward. "But not now, as there is more co-ordination to defeat the common enemy."
Moreover, Bajwa's visits to the front line along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border always boost troops' morale, he said.
Strict border control is paying off, agreed Islamabad-based broadcast journalist Arshad Sharif.
"Vigilance on the border and the new steps by the Pakistani government to fence and manage the border to check illegal movement ... have neutralised the terrorist groups," he told Pakistan Forward.