Pakistan Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, on Sunday opened a key road in the South Waziristan tribal region that will facilitate trade with neighboring Afghanistan, officials said.
The Central Trade Corridor (CTC) is a strategic road link to facilitate trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and will directly and indirectly help revive the local economy in the country's tribal regions and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the military said.
Militancy and violent extremism have badly affected economic activities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) over the past several years. The security forces have cleared most of the areas from the Taliban and foreign militants. The army has eliminated militants from South Waziristan following a major offensive in 2009.
An international standard, 705-km-long road network through the southern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, the CTC is being built by army engineers and funded by friendly countries, an army statement said.
General Raheel Sharif inaugurated the 76-km important section between Shakai and Makeen, two main towns in South Waziristan and built with the funding by the United States Agency of International Development, the statement said.
This section connects the two main axes of the Trade Corridor Bannu, a main nearby city with Miranshah, headquarters of the North Waziristan tribal region with Ghulam Khan, the border area with Afghanistan and Wana Aangor Ada in South Waziristan.
"Apart from other economic, security and strategic advantages, the newly constructed roads have reduced traveling times considerably," the army said.
The army chief said on the occasion that development of FATA is a priority task being undertaken by the army as a well considered strategy.
The Pakistan Army has undertaken 178 projects in FATA and Malakand areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which are aimed "to improve the quality of life in tribal areas and address the problem of militancy on a long term basis," General Raheel Sharif said.
Addressing the tribal elders, he appreciated their support in combating terrorism and acknowledged their sacrifices in the war against terrorism. He reiterated the army's resolve to bring peace and stability to the affected areas.
Referring to operation "Zarb-e-azb" launched in North Waziristan in June after the rare peace talks with the Taliban insurgents collapsed and the militants increased attacks, the army chief said that the operation is progressing successfully as per plan.
He said the security forces are focusing on the early completion of the operation, the army will continue with rehabilitation and reconstruction activities and a comprehensive plan in this regard has been chalked out in consultation with the government.