The current wave of terror across the nation has the people once again in the grip of fear and panic. Attacks in Charsadda, Sehwan, Lahore and other places have once again shown that the war on terror is not over and that we need to fight back. In the face of escalating terrorism Pakistan has now launched Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, which is a nation wide operation that includes broad-spectrum security and counter-terrorism operations in Punjab, and continuation of ongoing operations across the country.

According to the Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing of the Pakistan Army, the operation aims include the elimination of the residual and latent threat of terrorism, consolidating gains of operations made so far and ensuring the security of Pakistan’s borders. It entails coordinated action by all wings of the armed forces as well as paramilitary organisations, civilian law-enforcement agencies and intelligence outfits. The offensive has a countrywide canvas and along with this Pakistan also aims to interact with Afghanistan to find a lasting solution to this problem. Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan which is vital for the progress and prosperity for the entire region. Afghanistan’s soil should not be used against Pakistan and the Afghan government should take necessary steps in this regard.

Radd-ul-Fasaad came about to reinforce the promises made in the National Action Plan and it is imperative that Pakistan take action against hard-line madressahs and crack down on terrorist cells in urban areas where such elements can easily find cover. The federal government and provinces must also come up with a counter-narrative to push back against the insidious ideology that has fueled extremism. Extremism is a mindset, one that has percolated through society for decades now, the government can counter it through an intelligent use of the resources at its disposal and a steely resolve to put the people of this nation ahead of any other agendas.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has reiterated government’s strong resolve to root our terrorism from the country. Talking to media in Ankara where he was on a visit, he said that the operation against terrorism has broken the backbone of the terrorists. He said the war against terrorism will continue till the elimination of the last terrorist.

The Prime Minister said the enemy of the country wants to sabotage the development process in Pakistan but they will not succeed in their nefarious designs. He also made clear that the decisions to call Rangers in Punjab and initiation of operation Radd-ul-Fasaad were taken at the Prime Minister House, which shows government’s determination to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from Pakistani soil. While urging for peace in Afghanistan he said that the land of Afghanistan was being used to spread terrorism in Pakistan and that they (the government) had made the Afghan government aware of the concerns.

Under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad a suicide bomber along with 100 other suspects have been held while six terrorists killed in counter-terror raids across the country as reported on 24th February. The Counter-terrorism Department gunned down six terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi over an encounter in Muzaffargarh’s Pati Sultan Mehmood. Operative of the banned outfit, Yasin alias Imran was among the killed extremists while four terrorists were able to flee. Previously security forces killed two important commanders of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar near border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The killed terrorists include Wajihullah and Qari Zubair. Wajihuddin was the mastermind of Lahore blast while Qari Zubair was in charge of a transit camp in Afghanistan. Also the Frontier Corps (FC) and intelligence agencies foiled a major terror plot near Loralai, Balochistan, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. FC and intelligence agencies conducted a joint targeted operation in Killi Shah Karaiz area of Balochistan against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)/Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) network led by Wahab Zakhbail. The forces recovered 23 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) during the operation. The IEDs had reportedly been transported to the area by TTP elements to target Law Enforcement Agencies’ (LEAs) vehicles and Loralai University buses carrying students.

Pakistan has decided to expedite its efforts to combat terrorism and is acquiring equipment and weapons required for combating militancy. Case in point, Pakistan concluded a deal with an Italian aerospace and defence firm for purchasing a number of AW139 helicopters. Similarly, an American aerospace manufacturer would deliver three Bell AH-1Z Viper twin-engine attack helicopters to Pakistan this year. This will be the first of a total shipment of 12 helicopters. Pakistan will deploy the helicopters in counterinsurgency operations and these helicopters would enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and other remote and mountainous areas. Pakistan will also receive four Russian-made Mi-35M attack helicopters in 2017, while it is also considering the Turkish Aerospace Industries T-129 attack helicopter or the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group Z-10 helicopter gunship as an alternative to the Mi-35M. Pakistan has likewise signed a deal with a US firm for manufacturing 40 mine-resistant ambush-protected MaxxPro Dash DXM vehicles. These are to provide better protection in case of mines or IED’s.

All these preparations and actions go to show how seriously Pakistan is taking the security and safety of its people and its land. We all need to stand united in the face of terrorism and extremism; we cannot let our petty concerns and reservations cloud our judgement or inhibit our perceptions. We must present a cohesive front and forget all our internal squabbling for there is a greater threat that we are facing right now and that is what needs to be the focus of all our energies and concerns. Inshallah with resolve and determination Pakistan will emerge victorious.