A militant was killed while three, including a female ‘terrorist’, were arrested from Lahore today, reported Waqt News .

According to details, intelligence agencies and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) conducted an operation in Punjab Society of the provincial capital.

The militants were residing in a rented house. Four security personnel were injured in cross firing, reported sources. Huge cache of weapons and suicide jacket were retrieved from the militants. 

The raid was conducted under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. 

On February 22, Pakistan Army launched a countrywide operation for “indiscriminately eliminating residual and latent threat of terrorism”.

Operation ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad [eradication of violence/mischief]’ was termed the last phase of the armed action by country’s security forces against terrorists, which has been ongoing for over a decade.

The aim of the operation, according to a press release issued by the ISPR, is to consolidate gains of earlier military operations like Zarb-e-Azb, Rah-e-Raast and Rah-e-Najaat.

Besides ensuring more effective border management and continuation of ongoing operations in troubled areas of the country as part of this process, one of its key features is action of Rangers in Punjab – which has been a longstanding demand of various segments of the society.

Additionally, the country would be de-weaponised through a national campaign and a comprehensive explosives control regime would be put in place.

The announcement of the nation-wide anti-terror operation came after Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa chaired a high-level security meeting in Lahore.

A sweeping action against suspected militant elements across the country had already been initiated after a series of bloody extremist assaults killed dozens of people across the country. Now, however, it has been formally named and its objectives and scope have been clearly stated.

Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, civil armed forces (CAF) and other security and law enforcing agencies (LEAs) are actively participating and intimately supporting the efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country, the media wing of the military said, showing the scale and comprehensiveness of this national operation.

The effort entails conduct of Broad Spectrum Security and Counter Terrorism operations by Rangers in Punjab, said the ISPR, adding that pursuance of National Action Plan will be the hallmark of this operation.

Earlier, military and paramilitary Rangers top brass met in Lahore to chalk out a comprehensive action plan to eradicate terrorism in all its form and shades across Punjab, through a province-wide operation to be led and spearheaded by Punjab Rangers.

The meeting chaired by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was attended by Corps Commanders from Punjab province, Punjab Rangers DG Major General Azhar Naveed Hayat Khan and director generals of Inter-Services Intelligence [General Naveed Mukhtar], Military Intelligence and Inter-Service Public Relations [Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor].

Once the action plan is ready, it was placed before Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take the civil administration on board.

Interestingly, the same day the federal government approved a request forwarded by the Punjab government for the deployment of Rangers personnel in the province.

The province had requested the centre for deployment of over 2,000 Rangers personnel, who would be given policing powers to conduct intelligence-based operations (IBOs) against militants, wherever required and with full authority.

A well-placed security source confided to The Nation that the operation in Punjab would be different than those of Karachi and Balochistan.

“Karachi is densely populated but it’s a single city. Balochistan is an extensive province but the population there is scattered. Punjab is an extensive area with considerable population, but neither it is as extensive and hardly accessible as Balochistan nor has as much population concentration as Karachi. Therefore, the strategy and modes of operation have to be different”, he explained.

He quoted former Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani of having said that battle against terrorists would [ultimately] be fought in streets and ‘mohallahs’ for achieving the objective of rooting them out of society at the grassroots level.

In Punjab, the menace of terrorism is double-edged. Here, it’s a combination of sectarian militancy and outright terrorism based on negation of the state existence. Therefore, he was of the view that a different approach would have to be adopted to tackle the problem in this most populated province of the country. He expressed optimism about the success of the proposed operation saying that it was not possible to give a timeline on its progress and completion.

He said the operation would be intelligence-based and most part of it would be conducted on the basis of information that is already available.

Asked if the operation on Pak-Afghan border was joint in nature, he replied in the negative saying that the Afghan government and its military forces had no writ on their side of the border which is occupied by the common enemy I.e. Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and Daesh.

“Chief of Army Staff Gen Javed Qamar Bajwa had informed the Commander of the US force Gen Nicholson about the operation in Pak-Afghan border area before it was launched. The US General gave his nod realising it was well-intended and indiscriminate as the targets are all terrorists belonging to different so-called Jehadi outfits”, the source added.

To a question, he said that Afghan government has now decided to move their troops to the troubled area near Pak-Afghan border. “This suits Pakistan very well since it did not want this area to be freely available to such elements for use against our soil”, he remarked.

Asked about the decision of closing border crossings at Torkham and Chaman, he said it was essential to curb terrorists’ lifeline in terms of weapons, ration and other essential items which were being supplied through these routes.

“Wait for a while and demand for reopening would be initiated by the Afghan government. Normally, they maintain a stock of daily use items for a week and when they run out of the stock, the panic starts”, the source added.

The source said situation with India was different since it had writ on every inch of its soil except held-Kashmir. Its armed forces are properly trained and generally act under defined international laws and norms. India, by and large, is a responsible state unlike Afghanistan, which has its writ over less than 30 percent of the land while the rest is being held by different militant groups. Therefore, there is no danger of similar situation arising on our eastern border, he said in definite terms.

He bitterly criticised the media for consistently trying to create a rift between the military and civilian leaderships which, he thought, would weaken the combined strength of the state institutions. Such efforts by some elements in the print and electronic media would benefit the terrorists and their facilitators.

Previous military operations

One of the stated purposes of the new operation is consolidation of the previous military campaigns against terrorists. These operations included Operation Rah-i-Haq-I in Swat valley and Shangla district (2007), Operation Rah-i-Haq-II in Swat valley and Shangla (2008), Operation Sirat-i-Mustaqeem in Khyber Agency (2008),Operation Sherdil jointly launched with Frontier Corps in Bajaur Agency (2008), Operation Rah-i-Haq-III in Swat valley and Shangla (2009),Operation Black Thunderstorm in Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla district (2009), Operation Brekhna in Mohmand Agency (2009),Operation Rah-i-Rast, commonly known as Swat Operation, (2009), Operation Rah-i-Nijat in South Waziristan (2009) and  Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency (2014).