ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his government's resolve to eliminate terrorism in the country by saying that decisive crackdown against terrorists would continue till the realisation of objectives of military operation 'Zarb-e-Azb'.
To take the Parliament into confidence on the operation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the PM read out his government's policy in this regard on Monday, first in National Assembly and later in the Senate. "Pakistan will not be allowed to become safe haven of terrorists at any cost," he told the lawmakers.
The prime minister announced formal end of dialogue with the militants, saying that terrorism and negotiations could not go side by side and this was the reason that the operation has been launched after mutual consultation of civilian and military high-ups. Perhaps for the first time the PM looked so much determined, and he spoke on this sensitive subject.
He said that there could have been difference of opinion on operation and the dialogue process “yesterday but now this chapter is closed and the entire nation including media, political parties, religious leaders and tribal people should extend a helping hand to make the operation a success."
"Military operation has been started by taking into consideration all the sensitivities attached with such a move", Nawaz announced in both the houses separately. He showed his confidence that the operation would bring peace and security. He hoped that national leadership would be united on this critical moment of the country’s history as it remained on one page in the past on the issues of national interests.
Mentioning terrorism incidents from Islamabad District Courts to Karachi airport, the PM said that the government sincerely gave peace a chance but the other side did not reciprocate its sincerity. "The government had to take the decision to launch the operation as a last resort," he stressed. He said the government made every effort to make dialogue process successful and result oriented but terrorists did not leave the path of bloodshed and violence and continued playing the game of fire and death.
"We gave peace a chance despite the sacrifice of thousands of lives rendered by the soldiers and the people of the country... We had been negotiating with them and they kept on striking our installations including worship places, educational institutions, military installations, airports, public places and residences.”
Dispelling the impression of soared relations between the civilian and military leadership, the premier said all the decisions, from dialogue process to military offensive, were taken with mutual consultation and consensus between the two sides. He called upon the religious scholars to play their role in this national cause by promoting true Islamic values of peace, brotherhood and tolerance. Appealing to the people to play their role in make the operation successful, he said, "The entire nation and political parties stand behind the armed forces."
Nawaz Sharif reminded the world that Pakistan had paid a heavy price – in terms of lives and material – during war on terror which he said was imposed by militants, adding that country has suffered losses worth $103 billion due to terrorism. He announced that special centres have been set up for those who would opt for peace and abandon the armed struggle by accepting the country's law and constitution.
The premier also spoke about the difficulties of the military operation, including the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and said that government fully realised these. He said that special centres have been set up for the affected and Minister for States and Frontier Regions Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch would oversee efforts to look after the IDPs. He hoped that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government would extend necessary cooperation, adding that KPK Governor Mehtab Abbasi has also been instructed for facilitating the IDPs.
Later, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan putting his weight behind the premier said that the entire opposition parties endorse the decision of military operation against the militants. "We are not only supporting our armed forces but we stand behind the civilian government", he said.
All the opposition parties in the Senate including PPP, PML-Q and ANP supported the government decision of launching the operation. However, the lawmakers of some parties said that this decision should have been made earlier. Afrasiab Khattak of ANP said that the operation should not only be limited to North Waziristan but also be extended to southern Punjab and Karachi where the terrorists and the banned sectarian outfits have established their sanctuaries.