For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the government has established its writ in the scenic Tirah Valley in the troubled Khyber agency that had become a haven for Taliban militants.
The writ was established after a successful security operation that killed 104 militants and injured 64 others. Eight soldiers, including an officer, were also killed, Operational Commander Major General Humayun Aziz told reporters.
The valley has long been plagued by a turf war between extremist groups. The situation deteriorated on March 16 this year when the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants from Swat district, and Mohmand, Bajaur, Khyber, Orakzai and South Waziristan agencies infiltrated the strategic valley and drove away the local population.
"After days of bloody clashes, the valley fell to the Taliban on March 21. Thousands of local tribesmen had fled fighting in the valley -- especially in the Bagh area of Maidan -- to seek shelter elsewhere in the agency, neighbouring agencies and Peshawar," The Express Tribune reported.
The daily said the writ was established for the first time in the history of Pakistan.
The army had conducted a tour for journalists in the valley.
According to state-run APP news agency, the journalists visited the headquarters of TTP in Bagh and the room of the outfit's chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
The militants have fled away to Afghanistan to avoid arrest, General Aziz said.
Foreign militants of Uzbek origin have also been killed in the operation that continued for 22 days, starting on May 28 and culminating on June 20, he added. The operation was conducted in 99 villages of Maidan and Bagh areas.
The militants have burnt 90 per cent houses in Maidan and Bagh areas, he said, adding that initially they had reports of the presence of 1,000 to 1,500 terrorists in these areas, but during the course of the fighting, their number were not more than 500.
The senior army officer said 40,000 people were dislocated due to the operation in Tirah valley.
"We are working with the United Nations and other donor agencies to resettle these displaced people at the earliest. Their return will commence in next two weeks and they will be provided with six months ration, non-food items and Rs 25,000 cash," he said.
Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters