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Pakistan Army hands over power to civilian authorities in Swat after 11 years
Brig. Naseem Anwar hands over a flag to Commissioner Malakand Zaheerul Islam to formally mark the transfer of control from the military to the civilian administration in Swat District October 22. Photo courtesy: Muhammad Ahil

Pakistan Army hands over power to civilian authorities in Swat after 11 years

Pakistan Army formally handed over administrative control of Swat to the civil government after restoring peace

Pakistan Army on Monday formally handed over administrative control of Swat to the civil government after restoring peace and the government’s writ in the militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.

“Today is our victory day and we proudly announced that now there is no presence of any terrorist hideouts in Swat as Pakistan’s military successfully defeated them and destroyed all their hideouts in Swat and other parts of the Malakand region,” Mehmood Khan, chief minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said.

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, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Salahuddin and GOC Swat Major General Khalid Saeed.

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”.

Transfer of power to herald new era of peace

The historic handover of powers to the civilian administration will usher in a new era of peace and development in the region, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said at the ceremony.

The terrorists held residents hostage, destroying the region’s socio-economic infrastructure, schools and state institutions, according to Khan.

“Swat is as secure as ever, and there is no longer any space for extremism and terrorism,” Khan said.

Lt Gen Butt said that terrorism forced 3.5 million people out of Swat. “The civilian authorities will be responsible for the administration from today onward, while the army will guard the country’s borders,” he added.

In 2007, after the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had taken over Swat, armed forced were called in rescue the valley out of their possession — a process that took more than a decade.

Naya Pakistan housing scheme launched in Swat

At the same time, Naya Pakistan housing scheme was launched by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan who said national low-cost “Naya Pakistan Housing Programme” will not only provide housing for the homeless but also boost economic activities by providing jobs to thousands of unemployed people.

The KP project was launched in Swat to honour the sacrifices rendered by Swat’s residents in the war on terror. The work on the pilot project has already been in seven districts across the country including Swat, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Gilgit and Muzaffarabad.

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