Pakistan will no longer be terrorist haven: PM

Published June 17, 2014
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reading out his statement in Senate on Monday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reading out his statement in Senate on Monday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Taking the nation into confidence through parliament over the government’s decision to launch a military action in North Waziristan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared on Monday that the operation would continue till the achievement of the “ultimate objective”.

Amid desk-thumping even from the opposition members, he expressed a resolve that the country would no more be a safe haven for terrorists.

“Let me make it clear that this country will no more be allowed to become a sanctuary for the terrorists at any cost,” the prime minister said in a policy statement. He first read it out in the National Assembly and then in the Senate.

“As you know that a decisive action has been launched to purge the country of terrorism. Keeping in view all the sensitivities of a military action, a directive has been issued to start the operation that began yesterday,” Mr Sharif said.

“The operation against terrorism, named Zarb-i-Azb, Insha Allah, will continue till the achievement of its ultimate objective,” he declared.

“Yesterday, there could be two opinions about the operation and the talks, but now this chapter should be closed,” he said, asking the nation to support the armed forces in a fight for the country’s integrity.

“The whole nation, all segments of society, media and political parties should now be on the back of the government and the armed forces,” he said.

In an apparent reference to reports in some political and media circles that the army and the government might not be on the same page over the military action, the prime minister claimed that the decision to launch the operation had been made after an understanding between the army and the government.

“I make it clear that during the negotiation process, the political and military leadership continued consultations and all the decisions had been made with complete harmony and mutual reconciliation.”

He said the decision to launch the operation had also been made with “complete harmony and mutual consultation, following unabated terror incidents, particularly after the attack on Karachi airport”.

Mr Sharif recalled that he had announced on the floor of the National Assembly on Jan 29 that the government had decided to start negotiations with the militants to give peace a chance and a committee was constituted for holding talks with them.

At that time, he said that he had called for an end to terror activities with a belief that “terrorism and peace cannot go together”.

“The nation is a witness to the fact that our sincerity and good intentions were not reciprocated.”

The prime minister regretted that the negotiations spread over four and a half months could not make progress towards peace. “The world knows that on one hand, we were negotiating with these groups and on the other, our installations were being targeted through bombs,” he said.

“On one hand, we were busy in pleading peace and on the other, our children, women and youths were being killed. On one side, we were peacefully talking to them while on the other, a game of fire and blood was being played from Islamabad courts to the Karachi airport,” Mr Sharif regretted.

He said Pakistan had paid “a heavy price” for terrorism. This war, he said, had been going on for the past 12 years against “our armed forces, security agencies and law-enforcement agencies”. He said the country’s economy had suffered a loss of $103 billion.

“Our places of worship, educational institutions, airports, military installations, markets and even our houses have become unsafe,” he said, adding that it was a matter of grief that the country’s playgrounds were pining for foreign players and snow-clad peaks were missing climbers. Moreover, people in cities and towns were living under a shadow of terror and even other countries had issued travel advisories.

“We have decided to make Pakistan a land of peace. I believe that this operation will herald a new era of peace and stability where we will be able to realise our dreams of progress and prosperity,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif urged Ulema to tell people that extremism and terrorism negated Islamic teachings of tolerance and forbearance.

The prime minister said special centres had been set up for those who wanted to opt for the path of peace. “The state of Pakistan will provide all opportunities to those who renounce terrorism and adhere to the country’s laws and the constitution to lead their life as peaceful citizens,” he said.

Special centres had also been set up for people affected by the operation and Federal Minister retired Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch had been given the responsibility to supervise the operation.

Mr Sharif expressed the hope that the minister would get the support of the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa government as well.

He said KP Governor Mahtab Ahmed Khan had also been directed to ensure well-being of the affected people.

He appealed to tribal people to play a role in the operation, saying that the time had come to rid their region of savagery and destruction.

Seeking cooperation from all political parties for his government as well as the armed forces, the prime minister expressed the hope that the operation would lead the country to peace and stability.

Mr Sharif said the country’s political leadership had always played a positive role on important national issues. “I hope that they will again do the same during this important phase of national history”.

NAVAL HEADQUARTERS: Earlier in the day, the prime minister visited the Naval Headquarters, where he was briefed by the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) on “operational preparedness of Pakistan Navy”.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and senior officers of Pakistan Navy attended the briefing.

On arrival at the headquarters, Mr Sharif was received by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila and was presented a guard of honour.

Nawaz Sharif said the naval forces were fully prepared to guard maritime frontiers and interests. He reposed complete trust and confidence in the professional capabilities of the Pakistan Navy.

“The government will provide full support for development plans of Pakistan Navy to ensure that it remains a balanced and effective force capable of meeting future challenges.”

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2014

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