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Pakistan govt revives plan to shift Army headquarters to Islamabad

PTI | Islamabad |

The Pakistan government has revived plans to shift the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the country’s Army from Rawalpindi to Islamabad and the military would provide Rs 100 billion for the ambitious project, according to a top defence official.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Defence on Thursday, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Zamirul Hassan said that 2,450 acres of land has been allocated for building a defence complex in Islamabad, the Express Tribune reported.

He also said that for this purpose 5,000 families would be relocated to a different place.

Hassan said the defence complex would be built at a cost of Rs 100 billion and the money would be provided by the Army.

The plan to relocate the GHQ had been under study since 1970. However, the plan was shelved around October 2008 to 2009, at the instructions of then Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, due to financial constraints.

In 2009, six terrorists wearing Army uniforms launched a brazen assault on the General Headquarters, sparking an hour- long battle. Pakistani troops repelled the assault. Six soldiers and four terrorists were killed during the fighting.

The powerful Army, which enjoys considerable influence over policy decisions in Pakistan, has ruled the country for much of its life since it gained independence 70 years ago.

Briefing the panel on the eastern border, Lt Gen (retd) Hassan alleged that India has violated ceasefire along the Working Boundary and Line of Control 1,299 times in 2017.

Speaking about the security of Pak-Afghan porous border, he said the two neighbours share 2,611-kilometre long border.

“Pakistani military has 975 posts along the border, while Afghan security forces have only 218 posts,” he said. “On the other hand, there is no military post along the 650-kilometre- long border between the two countries in Balochistan.”

The defence secretary told the lawmakers that 73 wings of the Frontier Constabulary were being raised for the management of the Pak-Afghan border.

“Of these, 29 wings have already been set up,” he said, adding that the porous border was being fenced at a cost of Rs 56 billion.

He said that there have been 307 terrorist attacks in Pakistan from the Afghan border so far this year.

Moreover, the official also said that Pakistan did not have confirm information about the death of Umer Khalid Khurasani, the chief of the outlawed Jamaatul Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Khurasani, whose group has carried out some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Pakistan, was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan opposite Kurram Agency of Pakistan earlier this month.

According to Hassan, Khurasani’s picture circulated in the media was forged. “There has been no US drone strike inside Pakistan in recent days,” he claimed.