A National Security Committee (NSC) meeting on Friday agreed to launch an “all-out comprehensive operation” to rid the country of the menace of terrorism.
The NSC acts as the principal decision-making body on national security matters. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presided over the body’s 41st meeting today, which was attended by senior civil and military leadership, including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, services chiefs and chief ministers.
The meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s House and initially lasted for two hours. It was later resumed and concluded in the evening.
A press release issued from the Prime Minister’s Office said today’s NSC session was in continuation of a previous meeting that was convened after a terrorist attack at Peshawar Police Lines. Over 80 people were martyred in the attack in January, many of whom were policemen.
“The meeting agreed to launch an all-out comprehensive operation with [the participation of] entire nation and government to rid the country of the menace of terrorism with renewed vigour and determination,” the press release said.
It added that the operation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms from Pakistan would incorporate measures at political, diplomatic security, economic and social levels.
Moreover, the press release said, a high-level committee had been formed that would submit recommendations regarding the implementation and parameters of the operation within two weeks.
The participants of the meeting emphasised the need for “comprehensive national security”, with a focus on relief for the people. They were informed that the government was taking necessary steps in this regard.
‘Soft corner’ for TTP blamed for rise in terrorism
The NSC concluded that the recent spate of terrorism in the country was a consequence of a “soft corner” for the banned militant group Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and a “thoughtless policy” towards the terror outfit, both of which were “contrary to the public’s expectations”.
As a result, the press release said, “terrorists were not just allowed to return to the country unimpeded but dangerous TTP militants were also released from jails in the name of confidence building”.
With the return of these “dangerous terrorists” and as a consequence of assistance being provided from various militant organisations operating in Afghanistan in large numbers, the country’s peace and stability were destroyed, the press release added. It underlined that this peace and stability were attained after “countless sacrifices and continuous efforts”.
According to the press release, the NSC expressed the determination to defeat the “nefarious designs” of the country’s enemies and resolved that all possible efforts would be made to maintain the “peace and order achieved by the great sacrifices and continuous efforts of the martyrs”.
“The meeting acknowledged the sacrifices and efforts of the security forces for providing lasting peace to the nation,” the press release said, adding that the forum reiterated its commitment to continue its activities till the end of terrorism from Pakistan.
The participants of the meeting further paid tribute to the martyrs of the Gayari sector tragedy on April 7, 2012, when at least 140 people, including Pakistan Army personnel and civilians, were martyred after an avalanche struck an army camp near the Siachen glacier.
The NSC also lauded the arrest of the founder of the banned militant group Baloch National Army, Gulzar Imam alias Shambay, as announced by the military’s media wing earlier today.
“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, as well as growing divisions and hatred in society, determining that this affects national security,” the press release said.
Earlier today, PTI leader Shireen Mazari commented that the NSC meeting would be crucial. She said it would be critical in shaping the future course of action regarding the country’s security.
“NSC meeting today will reveal a lot abt whether Constitution & Rule of Law will be upheld or whether law of the jungle will prevail & the vicious vendetta against Imran Khan & PTI will continue,” she tweeted.
The former minister expressed concerns that the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s fear of elections might translate into the state turning against the nation, and added, “Let’s hope that this does not happen.”
The last NSC meeting was held in January this year which had reiterated its resolve to have “zero tolerance” for terrorism in the country.