June 15, 2009 (by Asif Shamim) - Pakistani Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, flew of over the Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province to see first hand the ongoing fight against the militants who have besieged the region.
This was the first visit by the General to an operational base of the Pakistan
Air Force after taking over as Chief of Army Staff and he was warmly greeted by his airforce counterpart, Chief of Air Staff, Rao Qamar Suleman.
The flight lasting little over an hour in a F-16B (#84608
) from 9 Sqn was a show of force for his troops who are engaged in battling the militants in Operation Rah‑e‑Raast in various parts of Malakand, Swat and Bannu.
The secondary objective was to show the tight coordination between the air force and army, and to maintain public morale for the ongoing and widening offensive.
On his return he made a small speech to locally gathered airforce officials in which he discussed how difficult it is to distinguish between enemies and friends in a campaign against domestic militants.
"The biggest challenge is to differentiate between black and white in this war," General Kayani said in his address, which was broadcast on private television networks. "People can go astray. They need to be brought to the righteous path," he said, referring to the militants.
"This is not a war (against) Islam," he said. "Islam is our foundation. The problem is extremism and terrorism."