ISLAMABAD - In a major shift from dialogue to hot pursuit of the militants persistently defying the dialogue offer, political and military leadership agreed to continue surgical strikes against them.
It was further decided at the meeting of political and military elite, with the prime minister in the chair, to enhance coordination and intelligence sharing amongst the provinces while anti-terror legislation would be expedited to effectively block loopholes in the system.
The meeting also kept the dialogue option open to the elements to opt for negotiations within the ambit of the Constitution and law of the land while those challenging the writ of the government would be dealt with iron hands.
The high-level meeting held at the Prime Minister’s House reviewed the overall security situation in the country in the backdrop of upsurge in terrorist attacks across the country with specific reference to the incidents in Bannu, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Mastung and Karachi.
The chief of the army staff and the Inter-Services Intelligence DG briefed the prime minister on the existing security situation in the country. Different existing terror-related legislations were also reviewed.
The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Minister of Interior Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, DG ISI Lt-Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam, CGS Lt-Gen Ashfaq Nadeem, DG MO Maj-Gen Amir Riaz and DG MI Maj-Gen Sarfaraz Sattar.
Before the briefings, Gen Raheel had a one-on-one meeting with Nawaz Sharif at which the overall security situation in the country with specific reference to the surge in terrorist attacks came under discussion. It was further agreed between the two that the government’s dialogue offer should not be taken as a weakness. They also agreed that those continuously challenging the writ of the government would be dealt with iron hands.
The sources aware of the developments taking place told The Nation that both the sides were on the same page that the ongoing surgical strikes based on credible intelligence reports should continue against those challenging the writ of the government.
While chairing the meeting on the overall security situation, the prime minister made it clear that no one would be allowed to breach the national security.
He was all praise for the sacrifices rendered by the armed forces in the war on terror and made it loud and clear that the whole nation was standing behind the army in this war. “Those who have sacrificed their lives today for ensuring a better tomorrow for our future generations are our benefactors,” the prime minister said.
The PM also referred to some of the legislations made by the government to deal with the extraordinary situation the country was facing. He also announced the government’s all-out support for the forces in this regard. Nawaz Sharif also gave the direction to make intelligence mechanism more effective for curbing terrorism.
A preliminary report on terrorist incidents in the country was also presented during the meeting, which also focused on making intelligence work more effective to curb the menace of terrorism.
Sources said the report suggested foreign elements’ hand in the recent terrorist attacks whereas important decisions were made at the meeting to deal with terrorists.
The meeting decided to continue surgical attacks on the hideouts of the militants and their training camps, the sources said. The meeting did not discuss ground offensives against the militants, they added.
The meeting also decided to boost security at Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, including aerial surveillance of the border area, the sources further said.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid to reach Quetta to meet the protesters.