PESHAWAR/Islamabad - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday expressing firm resolve to continue operation Zarb-e-Azb till the elimination of extremists and terrorists, appealed to the nation to stand united for thwarting nefarious designs of the anti-state elements.

Referring to the terrorists attack on Army Public School Peshawar, the PM said, “Such acts of cowardice will not deter our resolve against terrorism. The operation will continue till the extermination of the last terrorist.”

The prime minister rushed to Peshawar after the horrific incident.

Talking to newsmen here at the Governor House, Nawaz said, “There should not be any fissures, differences and divisions in the nation at this critical juncture.” He said it was a national tragedy. The premier said the war against extremists and terrorists had entered into critical phase after successfully achieving many of its stated objectives. He said the government, the nation and the armed forces stood determined to wipe out the scourge, once for all. He said unless Pakistan was totally cleared of extremists and terrorists, the war against terrorism would continue.

To a question, the PM said the federal government along with the provincial government would consider a compensation package for the victim families. He said important decisions would also be taken in the wake of the tragedy.

Earlier, the prime minister also announced a 3-day national mourning to express solidarity with the families who have lost their loved ones in the barbaric attack - worst ever in the country’s history.

Meanwhile, the prime minister has called the meeting of heads of national political parties on Wednesday (today) in Peshawar to review the overall security situation in the country. The meeting will be held at Governor’s House Peshawar at around 11.30 am with heads of all the major political parties in attendance.

The premier, soon after hearing the news about the terrorists attack at school, directed Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan to coordinate with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government and extend all possible assistance to them. But after gauging the gravity of attack he himself flew to Peshawar along with interior minister to himself monitor the operation.

In another development, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar rang PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and informed him that in the wake of the terrorist attack in Peshawar they could not be in a position to hold talks with them fixed for Tuesday.

Qureshi replied that the PTI was already considering to defer the meeting and he was about to ring him in this connection. He further informed him that his party had also deferred the countrywide shutdown call on Dec 18th. The next date of the talks with PTI would be decided after consultation with PTI negotiation team, a leader in ruling PML-N informed.

A senior party leader said that head of Qaumi Watan Party Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, JUI-F Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, PPP central leaders, MQM, PkMAP, National Party and leaders belonging to other parties would be attending the meeting.

Sources in the government informed The Nation that prime minister wanted the national leadership to help government evolve a unified strategy to eliminate the menace of terrorism from country’s soil and would seek suggestions and proposals in this regard.

The PTI leadership has said that PTI Chairman Imran Khan would himself be attending the meeting to be held under the chair of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sources in the ruling PML-N informed that in Peshawar Prime Minister, besides monitoring the operation against militants who had killed over 140 students and teachers, held meeting with the party leadership from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chapter to have their input on the gory incident.

Meanwhile, the messages of condolences and sympathies have started pouring in from across the world with President and Prime Minister of Turkey in their separate messages to the premier expressed their heartfelt sympathies to him stating that the Turkish nation was standing with their Pakistani brethren in this hour of great shock and grief. Turkish government had also announced one-day mourning to show solidarity with their Pakistani brethren.

Indian Prime Minister Nerandra Modi also rang up Nawaz Sharif and expressed his sympathies to him. He also offered all help to Pakistan in this time of trial,adding, that the whole Indian nation was with them in this hour of grief and sorrow.