Islamabad: Pakistan on Sunday launched the much-awaited military operation against foreign and local militants hiding in sanctuaries near the Afghan border, a week after the Pakistani Taliban brazenly attacked the Karachi airport.
Military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said that on the directions of the Government, Armed forces of Pakistan have launched the "comprehensive operation" against terrorists hiding in sanctuaries in the country`s restive North Wazirastan Agency.
"The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb," he said.
Pakistani fighter jets earlier today pounded insurgent hideouts in North Waziristan, killing about 80 militants in an aggressive response targeting those believed to be responsible for attacking the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi last Sunday.
The army claimed to have killed the Uzbek mastermind of the airport attack in today`s assault.
"Around 80 terrorists, mostly Uzbek foreigners were killed in the strikes. An ammunition dump has also been destroyed," the army said.
Pressure had been mounting on Pakistan to respond to the attack. The strikes were the first military response to last Sunday`s assault on Karachi airport.
Using North Waziristan as a base, the terrorists had waged a war against Pakistan and had been disrupting normal life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property, he said.
"They had also paralysed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorised the entire peace loving and patriotic local population."
"Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries," the military spokesman said.
He said with the support of the entire nation, and in coordination with other state institutions and law enforcement agencies, these enemies of the state will be neutralised across Pakistan.
The long-awaited operation came after the Taliban attacked Karachi airport, considered a key asset of the country, killing at least 39 persons, including all the 10 Uzbek terrorists.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Karachi attack was apparently carried out by Uzbek fighters recruited by Pakistani Taliban, who planned it during the one-month ceasefire with Pakistan military for peace talks.
On January 29, Sharif had announced the formation of a committee to hold talks with the TTP to find a solution to end the over a decade of terrorism and militancy that has left more than 40,000 people dead.
Following the attack in Karachi, the army had submitted a "range of options" to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to crush terrorism with an iron hand.
Sharif too had a held high-level meeting on June 10 with his national security team following a surge in assaults by Talibani fighters, who had again started owning attacks in Pakistan.