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Pakistani PM praises army for defeating Waziristan militants

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ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's prime minister on Friday praised the country's armed forces for defeating militants in the North Waziristan tribal area, which was once considered the main base for the Pakistani Taliban.

Nawaz Sharif also encouraged the more than 80,000 people who were displacing almost a year of fighting to return to their homes.

"Peace has been restored. It is because of the sacrifices of the armed forces," he said in a televised speech during a rare visit to the area. "The bases of terrorism have been eliminated and people are happily returning to their homes."

Sharif made his remarks as a group of residents gathered in Mir Ali, a main town in North Waziristan, in preparation for the return to their villages and homes. Many had lived in camps or rented houses since the start of the operation on June 15.

As an added incentive to return home, Sharif said the government would build hospitals and educational institutions for the tribal people in the region.

Thousands were displaced when the army launched the operation in North Waziristan last year to eliminate local and foreign militants.

The army says it has cleared militants from most of the area and has a comprehensive plan for the phased return of those displaced by the fighting.

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