ISLAMABAD: The government should adopt a carrot-and-stick policy on the issue of terrorism and that full force should be used without any further delay against those militant groups which are involved in killing innocent people and security personnel.
This was the consensus among legislators of the ruling PML-N at its parliamentary group’s meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at his office here on Monday before the start of the National Assembly session.
“We are going through an extraordinary situation and this situation demands tough decisions,” the prime minister said in his opening remarks, but did not elaborate.
“Without eliminating terrorism and extremism, we cannot place Pakistan on a fast track of development.
We will take every step to bring peace and stability to the country. Officers and soldiers of the armed forces laying down their lives are our heroes and their blood will not go in vain”, he added.
Briefing the legislators on the security situation and progress in talks with Taliban, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the government had received demands from those Taliban groups which wanted to hold negotiations with the government.
According to PML-N sources, the minister said that except for a few demands, most of them could be considered for implementation.
They said that most of the time of the meeting, which lasted over three hours, was consumed by the interior minister and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. They briefed the participants on the government’s security policy and the economic situation.
This was the first opportunity for the ruling party legislators to meet Mr Sharif after his election as prime minister in June last year. But the sources said that only four members were provided the opportunity to speak.
They included Defence Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif, veteran politician and MNA from Nankana Sahib Rai Mansab Ali Khan, Chairman of the NA standing committee on interior and MNA from Sialkot Rana Shamim Ahmed and Senator Nuzhar Amir.
The rest remained silent throughout the meeting.
The sources said that those who spoke were of the opinion that the government should not hesitate in using force against militants wherever it was necessary.
Rai Mansab said time had come to take a decisive action against the militant groups which were not ready to hold talks and challenging the writ of the state by attacking innocent people.
A further delay could be detrimental for the government as well as the country, he warned.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, he also urged the prime minister to release funds for incomplete development projects in various constituencies.
Rana Shamim complained about the attitude of some ministers and said they neither respected the members nor listened to them.
The prime minister said such things should not happen and he would direct the ministers to respect the members and listen to their suggestions and complaints.
According to the sources, the interior minister briefed the legislators on the efforts the government had made to establish contacts with various groups of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan to initiate dialogue in line with the decision taken by an all-party conference in September.
He said that under the new national security policy, coordination among intelligence agencies was being improved to pre-empt any terrorist activity.
Besides, he added, a rapid force would be set up to respond to any terror attack.
A national counter-terrorism authority is also being set up to deal with militancy through coordinated efforts.
Chaudhry Nisar said that a number of steps had been taken to improve the working of law-enforcement agencies functioning under his ministry.
He said the ministry had six helicopters, but none of them was being used in the ongoing fight against terrorism.
He also briefed the meeting on the law and order situation in Sindh, with particular reference to the ongoing operation in Karachi.
Finance Minister Dar briefed the meeting on the steps the government had taken to improve economy.
He claimed that the government’s policies had increased the chances of accessing the international capital market and all international financial institutions were engaged with Pakistan.
The prime minister said Pakistanis were a peaceful nation and believed in relations based on respect with all neighbours, including India.
“We need to begin a new era of peace and stability in the region, which will be beneficial for Pakistan as well as the whole region,” he said.
“We will have to rebuild the image of Pakistan as a peace-loving country and this can be achieved only through hard work.
This needs combined efforts of all stakeholders, including parliamentarians, civil society, executive, judiciary and defence forces.”
Mr Sharif said “fragile economy and terrorism” were the two major problems the country was facing. “On economic front, we have taken actions which are proving to be fruitful. Economic indicators, despite the law and order situation, are positive. Corruption-free society and transparent system is our road towards progress,” he said.
The prime minister claimed that the situation in Karachi had improved and there was a 40 per cent decline in heinous crimes.
He said that although the energy crisis had not been fully resolved, power availability this year was better than last year because of the payment of circular debt, addition of 1,700 megawatts to the system and better management of the distribution network.
“We have more projects in the pipeline and hopefully by end of our tenure, we will add another 8,000MW to the national grid,” the prime minister said, adding that 36,000MW would be added to the system after completion of the civil nuclear power project as well as Diamer-Bhasha dam, Gadani, Nandipur, Jamshoro and wind power projects over the next 10-12 years.
The prime minister informed the legislators that the Japanese government had agreed to invest $2 billion in the Karachi circular railway project.