Pakistan: Military op to root out terrorists on the cards


NSC huddle approves decision as country faces economic, political crises
ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday decided to launch a comprehensive operation against terrorists, as the country’s civil and military leadership virtually issued a charge-sheet against the previous government and the establishment for allowing the banned TTP to regroup.

The high-level huddle chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by services chiefs and top intelligence officials as well as senior cabinet ministers came against the backdrop of a host of developments — both on the political and security fronts.

All eyes were on the country’s highest forum on the national security as there were speculations that the NSC might endorse the government’s decision to reject the Supreme Court ruling on the election in Punjab.

Although there was no explicit mention of the current political tensions in the country, the NSC acknowledged the deterioration in the security situation that warranted a new comprehensive operation.

The move may help the government advance its narrative that elections under present circumstances are not possible in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The highlight of the NSC meeting was the decision to launch an all-out comprehensive operation against terrorist outfits. It was for the first time Pakistan was going to launch another offensive against terrorism since 2016.

A statement issued after an over four-hour long huddle by the PM office said the meeting agreed to launch “an all-out comprehensive operation with the entire nation and the government, which will rid the country of the menace of terrorism with renewed vigor and determination.”

“This comprehensive, all-round and comprehensive operation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms from Pakistan will also include efforts at the political, diplomatic security, economic and social levels. A high-level committee has also been formed in this regard and will make recommendations regarding its implementation within two weeks,” the statement added.

Sources said unlike the past military campaigns, the latest offensive would cover all areas, including targeting those elements who use social and other media platforms to hurt Pakistan’s interests.

What was significant in Friday’s meeting was that for the first time the civil and military leadership publicly conceded that a policy to pursue peace talks with the TTP was a blunder.

The NSC linked the surge in terrorism with the previous dispensation’s policy of appeasement towards the TTP, which was completely contrary to public expectations and aspirations.

“Not only were the militants allowed to return without hindrance, but hardcore TTP terrorists were also released from jails in the name of confidence building,” the NSC noted in a reference to the PTI government’s decision to seek a peace deal with the TTP.

The committee said the returning terrorists used their contacts with groups operating out of Afghanistan to stage major attacks in Pakistan.

It was unprecedented that the military leadership char sheeted their predecessors for following a flawed policy.

The committee strongly condemned the efforts to spread foreign sponsored poisonous propaganda against state institutions and their leadership on social media under the guise of ulterior motives. Such measures, the statement noted, hurt Pakistan’s national security.

Reiterating the determination to thwart the nefarious intentions of the enemies of the country, the committee said that all possible efforts will be made to maintain the peace and security achieved after rendering great