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SWAT  – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday announced
the setting up of a permanent military base in the troubled Swat Valley, which
had slipped out of government control in 2007.

During a visit to Swat, the prime minister said
the whole nation acknowledges the matchless sacrifices by the people of Swat
for the revival of peace in the area. He also lauded the role of Pakistan Army
and security forces in ending the reign of terror of the extremists.
Taliban fighters led by Mullah Fazlullah, now
chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took control of the scenic
northwestern area and waged a two years brutal campaign of beheadings, violence
and multiple attacks on girls’ schools.

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. And, it is
the same area where Taliban shot schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in the head as
late as October 2013.

During the visit PM Nawaz was given a briefing,
and on this occasion he approved and announced a brigade level cantonment for
Swat and Malakand areas. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has in principle approved
and announced a brigade level cantonment for Swat and (adjacent) Malakand areas,”
his office said in a statement.

The PM also visited a de-radicalisation centre,
where he said the government desired to promote the atmosphere of peace,
brotherhood and co-existence in the country. He said our society was based on
Islamic principles. He said the government was trying to curb extremism and
provide to the people equal opportunities of progress and development.

The prime minister said that the government was
alive to the issues of backwardness, unemployment and economic deprivation in
the country and was striving to address these through judicious distribution of
resources. He also lauded the performance of armed forces to restore peace and
rehabilitation of infrastructure in Swat who completed the reconstruction of
schools, hospitals, roads and bridges in collaboration with the civic
administration and the people. He said their services would be remembered for
PM Nawaz Sharif said the de-radicalisation project has been lauded
locally as well as internationally and it has deradicalised around 2,000 youth,
helping them to live a normal life. “I wish this programme is extended to other
parts of the country as well, where the youth, who adopt such courses and
require attention, are made healthy members of the society through constructive
engagement. They are not enemies of Pakistan but have lost their direction,” he
Political Analyst Hasan Askari said the army’s permanent presence
would help prevent the return of Taliban insurgents to the area. “It is because
of the internal security situation and the threat of the return of militancy
that the army is making a permanent presence in Swat,” he told a foreign news
agency. “Had the army not been there, Taliban would have been in power in Swat.”
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, 16, became an international
symbol of the right to education for all after surviving a 2012 Taliban attack
in which she was shot in the head. Nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace prize,
she was taken to Britain for treatment following the attack and goes to school
in the central city of Birmingham.

The prime minister later also launched the Youth
Business Loans scheme for Swat and Malakand Division at a function in Wadudia
Hall. He said that PM youth business loan scheme will prove a launching pad for
ushering an era of economic prosperity and development in the country saying
transparency and merit will be maintained at any cost in the disbursement of
loans to the deserving applicants.
APP adds: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that he would contact
the political leaders to help carry forward the dialogue process with the
Taliban. “I will talk to Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maulana Samiul Haq
and Syed Munawar Hassan. If they make any breakthrough, it would be a great
pleasure for me. Hopefully, this will help the process move forward speedily
and effectively,” the PM said in an interview with a private television channel.
Nawaz said he already had such a strategy in his mind and would
ask these leaders to extend cooperation. He said the participation of the then
Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the ISI chief in the All Parties
Conference, proved that the army was not separate from the nation. They had
also endorsed the APC decisions, he added.

The Prime Minister said the military had left the
issue to be resolved by the political and national leadership of the country,
and even today they (military) stick to their stance.
Now it was the responsibility of the national
leadership to move forward in unison, he added. The PM hoped that the
government would now have the opportunity to move forward.

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