ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Thursday ordered the Army to extend full support to the government in its crackdown on militant organisations under the National Action Plan (NAP) for fighting terrorism.

The directive was given at the corps commanders meeting held at the General Headquarters which, among other issues, held a detailed discussion on the NAP.

“COAS also directed to further the efforts in line with decisions of the government to accelerate implementation of NAP while rendering full assistance to other state institutions,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media affairs wing, said in a statement on the meeting.

Following a decision made at a meeting of the National Security Committee on Feb 21 about “accelerating actions on the ground” against “militancy and extremism”, the government has launched a crackdown against proscribed groups and seized bank accounts and properties of several groups. The government has also proscribed the Jamaatud Dawa and the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation.

Corps commanders express resolve to defend country against any misadventure

The government actions are meant to meet the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which in its latest meeting found Pakistan deficient on the actions agreed to be undertaken by the January 2019 timeline and asked Islamabad to move expeditiously to meet the May 2019 timeline.

The next meeting of the FATF is scheduled to be held in June. Pakis­tan’s failure to fulfil FATF requirements could push the country from its grey list, where it is currently placed, to the black list with serious implications for the national economy. The action against proscribed organisations was agreed in the NAP, but the progress on this count lagged behind due to issues related to capacity, capability and will. Moreover, there is a realisation that matters pertaining to choking of terrorist financing, re-emergence of proscribed groups, registration and regulation of seminaries and strengthening of counter-terrorism institutions require special focus.

“Policy and the right of use of force shall remain the prerogative of the state alone,” the army chief asserted while speaking at the corps commanders’ meeting.

Standoff with India

The meeting also reviewed the standoff with India after the Pulwama incident.

“[The] forum expressed strong will, resolve and determination to defend the motherland against any misadventure or aggression,” the ISPR statement said.

Sharp escalation was witnessed last week when Indian aircraft intruded into Pakistani airspace. The next day the Pakistan Air Force carried out attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) from its own airspace and then shot down two intruding jets. Later, India intensified shelling across the LoC.

Now, the situation has relatively calmed down. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that tensions had lessened and credited private diplomacy of the United States for containing the crisis.

“[The] forum expressed concerns on increased Indian atrocities in IOK [India-Occupied Kashmir] post Pulwama incident and continued deliberate targeting of civilians along Line of Control by Indian occupation forces,” the ISPR said.

Calling for the world’s attention to Indian brutalities in held Kashmir and ceasefire violations along the LoC, the corps commanders warned that “continuity of such brutalities is only fuelling the fire and needs to be stopped in the interest of regional peace.”

“[The] COAS, appreciating morale and performance of the forces, support from the nation and above all blessings of Almighty Allah, directed for continued state of vigilance and alertness so as to be prepared for response to any threat,” the ISPR said.

Gen Bajwa, on this occasion, said: “Pakistan is on the positive trajectory of peace, stability and progress. No one can make us budge through use of threat or use of force.”

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2019