Army to launch crackdown in Punjab after bomb kills 70: sources

Published: March 28, 2016


LAHORE: Pakistan Army will launch a special paramilitary crackdown in Punjab,  after an Easter Day bombing in Lahore killed 70 people, government and military sources told Reuters on Monday.

The move represents the civilian government once again granting special powers to the military in order to fight militants. The crackdown would give paramilitary Rangers extraordinary powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects similar to those the Rangers have used for more than two years in Karachi, said a senior security official based in Lahore.

“The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page,” he told Reuters on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to share details of the plan.

One other military official and two government officials confirmed the decision on condition of anonymity.

The army and paramilitary Rangers have launched several raids across Punjab following the deadly Lahore blast, military spokesperson General Asim Bajwa said.

“Number of suspect terrorists and facilitators arrested and huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered,” the DG ISPR said in a tweet that gave no detail.

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif chaired a high-level meeting at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to review the progress of an operation which began after the deadly attack.

Suicide blast kills at least 72 in Lahore park

“The army chief chaired a high-level security meeting at GHQ today to review progress of operation in Punjab to nab terrorists in the aftermath of Lahore Blast,” the military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations said.

DG ISPR Asim Bajwa further claimed that intelligence agencies along with Pakistan Army and Rangers have carried out five operations in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan since the attack on Sunday.

“Operations continue with more leads coming in,” he tweeted.

PM calls for more proactive coordination to defeat terrorists

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday demanded proactive coordination amongst law enforcement and intelligence agencies to defeat the sordid designs of terrorists, Radio Pakistan reported.

World #PraysforLahore after deadly Pakistan bomb attack

He made these remarks while chairing a high-level meeting in Lahore which reviewed Lahore terror attack and overall strategy against the terrorists.

He said the provinces should also speed up intelligence-based operations against terrorists.

“We must take this war to the doors of terrorist outfits before they are able to hit our innocent country men,” PM Nawaz said.

He further said that winning the war against terror is imperative for Pakistan.

“Our resolve is getting stronger against terrorism and coward enemy is hitting soft targets in utter desperation,” the premier said.

“Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mindset which is threat to our way of life.”

“Terrorists have assassinated my kids, sons and daughters in this war and god willing we will wipe them out from this country,” the prime minister added.

Police claim to have identified Lahore bomber

The meeting was briefed by heads of law enforcement and intelligence agencies on different leads based progress regarding Lahore attack.

At least 72 people were killed and more than 233 injured when a suicide bomb ripped through the parking space of a crowded park in Lahore where Christians were celebrating Easter Sunday.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Jibran
    Mar 28, 2016 - 4:00PM

    Why were these operations avoided until now? Who was protecting these terrorists and resisting proactive action against them? Both the Punjab government, and the establishment are directly responsible for these killings. Punjab government as a sponsor, the establishment for its inaction.Recommend

  • Salman Hussen
    Mar 28, 2016 - 4:07PM

    Honestly….we need it before….but PML (N) didn’t allow them….Thanks Raheel SharifRecommend

  • Saleem
    Mar 28, 2016 - 4:28PM

    Heard that before as well. Instead of making headlines, show that operation has been started and let things speak for itself.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Mar 28, 2016 - 4:51PM

    Why our governments and army are not proactive.? Now everything will be lost in technicalities. Recommend

  • Rafi
    Mar 28, 2016 - 4:52PM

    Lol how lame is this? How about you start from the obvious, your own back yard that is where LAL MASJID is located. I’m dumb founded how this mulla can operate so freely. We are still stuck between good terrorist and and bad?Recommend

  • Pakistan Zindabad
    Mar 28, 2016 - 4:59PM

    We are hearing the success stories of Operation Zarb-e-Azb since last year. And the news of terrorist attack is on their way to success in media too.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Mar 28, 2016 - 5:11PM

    Another topi drama for a few days then back to normal.Recommend

  • Arif
    Mar 28, 2016 - 5:16PM

    We have heard it so many times that these words don’t mean a thing. I support pmln and as a supporter I ask the government what have they done to implement National Action Program in the country? Country needs road, bridges etc but security and safety is more important than anything. Please modernize police system. A complete overhaul is required. Give them latest weapons and modernize the infrastructure.Recommend

  • Dong
    Mar 28, 2016 - 6:11PM

    We’ve been screaming out that this government is incompetent to core and today we’ve lost hundreds of lives due to their incompetence. The army/rangers are now forced to do the job that police is supposed to do but Sharifs have made the police their own personal militia which doesn’t even think about pro-actively protecting the citizens.

    This terrorism isn’t going anywhere unless we reform our police because the facilitators of these attackers live amongst us and army alone cannot keep an eye on each street in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 28, 2016 - 6:13PM

    Great Initiative!
    It was a much needed operation.Recommend

  • imran ali
    Mar 28, 2016 - 6:36PM

    40+ years Radicalization …..Agencies leaving their prime duty and busy in creating and breaking political parties..or just an eye wash settle the dustRecommend

  • Haider Rehman
    Mar 28, 2016 - 7:15PM

    Excellent stepRecommend

  • Rahul
    Mar 28, 2016 - 8:16PM

    The Rangers are running KP, Baluchistan, Sindh and now Punjab! I guess PML still runs Islamabad.Recommend

  • observer
    Mar 28, 2016 - 9:55PM

    Errr, Ummm, Ahem..

    I admit to being weak in Geography, but do tell me,

    Are Lal Masjid, Islamabad, Muridke and Bhawalpur located in Pakistani Punjab.??


    Are these places part of Greater Middle East/ Arabia.??

    Will the ‘Crackdown’ visit these places??


    Give them a bye pass??Recommend

  • salman
    Mar 28, 2016 - 10:02PM

    Until and unless Punjab Govt doesn’t let Army operate in Punjab especially in Southern Punjab, such attacks gonna keep happening at regular intervals.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Mar 28, 2016 - 11:42PM

    @observer: Lal Masjid is in Islamabad and Islamabad is not in Punjab. Everything else you said is right. But they should start with Lal Masjid!Recommend

  • Karrar
    Mar 29, 2016 - 12:24AM

    @observer: You forgot Rahim Yar Khan, Chiniot, Jhang, Layyah & Bhakkar.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Mar 29, 2016 - 3:04AM

    Yes, go ahead, announce it first so terrorists can have enough time to move elsewhere. I don’t think this operation is being done seriously. Just another hoax.Recommend

  • Zahid
    Mar 29, 2016 - 3:16AM

    We all Pakistani support the Army action in Punjab, General Raheel Sharif Zindabad Pakistan Army Paindabad
    Plz first caught Rana sanaullah he is master mind behind all Recommend

  • syed & syed
    Mar 29, 2016 - 3:26AM

    @observer:Lal Masjid wala is blue eyed boy of administration. Even Judiciary cannot touch this Dais agent. To control terrorism it will be appropriate to take all Madaris under control with normal school syllabus be introduced. There should be an examination of all Mullas, I mean all, including Mullas heading or are members of political parties. If they pass Qirat and translation & Tafseer they should be eligible to be called Moulana.The action should be ruthless and immediate if Pakistan is to be saved.Recommend

  • Observer
    Mar 29, 2016 - 6:39AM

    Pak Army Chief declares operation in main hub of terrorism and religious extremism ‘Punjab’. Now Pakistan moving toward peaceful state…! Bring peace to our brothers and sisters in Punjab, from where recruitment and extremism actually has engulfed the entire country. Now we are on the right track! Recommend

  • Judge
    Mar 30, 2016 - 9:47AM

    Its all acceptable blow back resulting from the necessary strategic assets policy. Learn to live with it.Recommend

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