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Chapter of talks closed; operation will continue: PM Nawaz

17 June, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday resolved that operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan will continue till the achievement of ultimate objective as he vowed not to let country turn into safe haven of terrorists come what may.

In a formal announcement by political leadership of launch of military offensive, the prime minister told both houses of parliament separately that a decisive action has been started to purge country of terrorism. He hoped that the operation will lead to peace and stability.

"The military operation has be launched after taking care of all the sensitivities attached with such a move," the prime minister told the lawmakers. He said the government was cognizant of the difficulties and losses to be confronted during this action but the enemies of the country left it with no other option. He said the sincere offers by the government to resolve the issue through dialogue were not reciprocated by the other side.

"We were left with no other option. We have given preference to peace in order to make our country a cradle of peace. Our people are witness to the fact that government's goodwill offer was not taken in its real spirit. They (terrorists) continued their activities even during the dialogue process," he said. "The world knows that on one side we were engaged talks with Taliban and on the other hand our installations and forces were being targeted."

The prime minister called for closing the chapter of talks. "There might be many opinions on dialogue or operation yesterday. But today, the chapter of peace talks is closed," he said, and stressed that all sections of society should stand by the armed forces and the government. He hoped that the national political leadership will stand united at this critical moment as it remained united in the past on the issues of national interest.

Nawaz also talked about the consultation process between civilian and military leadership and said that all the decisions from dialogue process to military offensive were taken with mutual consultation and consensus. He said the decision of a decisive military action in North Waziristan was also taken after mutual consultations following unabated terror incidents, particularly attack on Karachi airport.

"Worship places, educational institutions, bazaars and even playgrounds were not safe. Playgrounds are eagerly awaiting foreign players while snow-clad peaks are missing the climbers. Cities, towns and bazaars are living under a shadow of terror. Travel advisories were being issued." He said Federal Minister Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch will personally supervise the relief operation, besides coordination between federal and provincial governments.

Nawaz appealed to religious scholars to guide the government in the light of true teachings of Islam to eliminate the terrorism from the country.

Meanwhile, in senate, Opposition legislators on Monday extended full support to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military operation in North Waziristan Agency.

But they asked for special arrangements for the internally displaced people (IDPs) of the areas concerned. "The opposition supports the military operation launched in NW Agency and stands fully behind the government," opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan told the House after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's address to the Senate over the start of a full-fledged military operation in North Waziristan. The entire House supported the military operation.

They were of the view that dealing with militancy is not the job of the government or security forces alone, and called for unity among all the stakeholders, setting aside political differences. They said it is a matter of the existence of Pakistan and observed that the government has wasted a lot of time and energy over peace talks with the Taliban, which has allowed them to re-organise. The senators said four neighbouring countries have also been complaining about terrorism activities in their countries whose main culprits are living in Pakistan.

They advised against distinctions of good and bad Taliban and called for action against terrorists across the country, including south Punjab and Karachi. Before the prime minister's speech in the Senate, the senators criticised the government for not taking parliament into confidence over such an important matter. Speaking on the occasion ANP's Senator Ilyas Ahmad Bilor said the government has handed over major installations and big cities to forces, but left Peshawar alone.

Being a front line province, he said the people of Peshawar should not be left at the mercy of the Taliban, and hand it over to the security forces. Supporting action against the militants, PPP's Senator Farhatullah Babar demanded answers to a number of questions. He asked why the military, and not the civilian government, announced the operation. He said there is a widespread perception that the military decided to launch the operation, while the "foot-dragging" civilian government followed suit, which would only exacerbate the civil-military divide.

Shah also asked as to what plans had been put in place to rehabilitate the internally displaced persons as was done by the PPP coalition government at the time of the Swat operation in 2009.

"In the absence of a proper plan to tackle the mass exodus of people from North Waziristan, we will only add to the frustration and alienation of the affected people," he said.

He inquired about the status of the so-called national internal security policy which was announced with much fanfare by the interior minister some three months ago.Babar said that the security policy had promised to develop a national narrative on militancy, de-radicalisation, legal reforms, reformation of almost 23,000 madrassas and bringing the 26 intelligence agencies under one platform. He said that no allocations had been made in the budget to achieve any of these goals.

Meanwhile, Senator Raza Rabbani said the attack on the Karachi airport has exposed the so-called coordination between the 26 intelligence agencies that was promised in the policy. He said there was not a single sentence in the finance minister's budget speech about ending extremism or about achieving any of the goals laid down in the national security policy.

Meanwhile, PPP's Senator Taj Haider said, "You cannot achieve internal security as long as you patronise some militants for external security purposes". He also accused the government of Punjab of giving full protection to the Taliban camps in south Punjab.

End.

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