ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said that Pakistan was passing through the most critical phase in the war on terror.

Addressing a seminar on “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” in Rawalpindi, the army chief said that operation Raadul Fasaad was just the beginning of a new phase in the war against terrorism and extremism.

Bajwa said security threats have been diluted resulting in a congenial environment for development activities and the fight from here onwards has to be carried on by all state organs and its people.

He said the youth was Pakistan’s investment in the future and “the faceless and nameless hostile forces are polluting the mind of our youth through the social media”.

Gen Bajwa’s statement also draws a parallel to the statement of Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, who a few days ago, warned against the misuse of social media.

“Those, who are using social media for slanderous and negative propaganda against the constitutional state institutions, are warned to desist from this undesirable activity,” the state minister had said in her statement.

Gen Bajwa said that Pakistan Army was the only army in the world that has defeated terrorism of this scale.

While referring to the sacrifices rendered by the armed forces and the nation against terrorism, the army chief said that Pakistan stands at the most critical phase in the war on terror.

He said as the targeted operations under Raddul Fassad continue, there was a need for finding ways to ensure that the causes of terrorism were addressed and the National Action Plan was actualised.

The army chief said that it was unfair and dangerous to associate the extremism with Islam.

While referring to the rising extremism in India, Gen Bajwa said that India has given in to the extremism and hate has been mainstreamed.

He said the Hindutva extremism of the RSS, deprivation of Palestinians, the burning and desecration of mosques or gurdwaras in western capitals, the rise of hyper-nationalists and the monster of racism, are all manifestations of extremism.

The army chief said that despite the incessant propaganda, the fact was that Pakistan has rejected terrorism which speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values.

He said that “our youth besides taking part in political discourse in unprecedented numbers and they are active in the social arena are also winning accolades for academic achievements abroad”.

Gen Bajwa said: “Pakistan’s enemies were actively pursuing divisive tendencies in the society and were waging the biggest and most sustained hybrid war against us from multiple directions and using multiple ways.”

He said that the Indian leadership has made no secret of its active involvement in the proxy struggle in East Pakistan and now in Balochistan.

He said Pakistan was cognizant of these threats and was actively countering them with the support of the entire nation.

He said that “our homes, educational institutions and media houses are the first lines of defence against extremism in the society”.

“We have defeated terrorism together and we will go after extremism too and root it with our values, mental faculties and physical energies”, Gen Bajwa said.

Earlier addressing the seminar, ISPR Director Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said that the “nature and character” of extremism has changed.

“I stand very privileged here today as your host to welcome you on this seminar as part of our ongoing operation Raddul Fasaad,” he said.

 “Raddul Fasaad is aimed at consolidating gains of all military operations earlier concluded in the kinetic domain and to bring about an enduring peace and stability,” the ISPR DG said.

He pointed out that one of operation Raddul Fassad’s strands was to eliminate extremism from our society.

“The requirement becomes more pronounced when we see that the nature and character of this conflict has also changed with the ideology of Islamic State (Daesh) which focuses on targeting minds of our youth,” he said.

He said it was our collective duty as ‘state’ and individual duty in our respective domain to shield our youth from this threat. “The process involves identification of threat and response measures,” he said.

 “We owe our achievements in ongoing operations to the youth. Of all the sacrifices made by uninformed Pakistanis 90 per cent contributions are by our young soldiers and officers.”

According to Ghafoor, the seminar was focusing on an analysis of “the phenomenon of extremism”.