By Aamir Latif
U.S. Central Command chief, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, Saturday visited the restive North Waziristan tribal region -- a former Pakistani Taliban stronghold bordering Afghanistan.
Votel is the senior most U.S. army official to visit the region since the Pakistani army cleared it of militants following a large-scale military onslaught in 2014.
The visit came amid fresh allegations from U.S president Donald Trump’s administration that Islamabad is not “doing enough” against the Haqqani network, a militant group blamed for numerous brazen attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, including Kabul.
According to a Pakistan army’s spokesman, the U.S. delegation was briefed about the military operations in the region and the Pak-Afghan border security mechanism.
“The delegation was also briefed about progress on the socio-economic developments including return of temporarily displaced persons,” the spokesman said in a statement, referring to the return of nearly a million tribesmen displaced by the 2014 military operation.
Over 90 percent displaced tribesmen, according to government figures, have returned to their homes in the past three years.
The delegation, the statement further stated, lauded the efforts and sacrifices of the Pakistani army and local tribes for re-establishing peace and order in the area.
“The visiting delegation also realized the importance of Pak-Afghan bilateral border security coordination," it maintained.
Later the delegation visited an army-run school in Miranshah -- the capital of North Waziristan-- and interacted with students, the statement concluded.
North Waziristan is one of seven semi-autonomous northwestern tribal regions in Pakistan, which once had been the headquarters of Haqqani network in recent years.
Islamabad claims that successive military onslaughts since 2014 have uprooted the network from North Waziristan. However, Washington has repeatedly demanded that its ally “do more” in the so-called war on terrorism.