PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Army on Monday handed administrative powers of the Swat region to the civilian authorities, ending a decade-long military operation to flush out Taliban militants led by Mullah Fazlullah from the region.
In a ceremony held at the Saidu Sharif airport, Brigadier Naseem Anwar handed over the civilian powers to Commissioner of Malakand Division, Zaheer-ul-Islam.
“The security powers are now the responsibility of Saidu Sharif police range officer,” he stated.
Addressing the gathering, General Office Commanding Major-General Khalid Saeed added: “The people of Swat stood shoulder to shoulder with the military to defeat terrorists. After the restoration of peace, the army took an active part in rehabilitation works.”
The ceremony was also attended by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-Gen Nazeer Butt.
Lt Gen But commented that peace has returned to Swat, and the law enforcement agencies and civil administration will be responsible for security in the region from now on.
The corps commander lauded the armed forces for vigilance in the face of threats, claiming that militant forces were still trying to launch attacks, hence the border was being “fortified with fencing”.
Because of the deteriorating law and order situation in 2009, 3.5 million people fled their homes, forcing the then-Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government to order a major military operation in Swat with the name Rah-e-Nijat.
The local population fully supported the operation in which 300 military soldiers, 150 paramilitary federal corps (FC) men and 200 policemen were martyred.