ISLAMABAD: Looking to have run short of patience in the face of a new wave of terror, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday declared an ‘all-out war’ on Pakistan’s ‘enemies’.
In an unusually strong-worded statement, the premier directed and authorised the armed forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate the enemy — whether it be inside the country or ‘coming from outside’ of it – with the full force of the state.
Informed official sources said Prime Minister Nawaz chaired separate meetings in Islamabad, Sehwan and Nawabshah where security measures after the deadly blast at LaL Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine were reviewed. The meetings were attended by the security brass led by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, military and civilian spymasters and members of the premier’s cabinet, including Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua.
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After being advised by the security brass to ‘show no mercy’ to anti-state elements and their supporters and facilitators, Premier Nawaz approved the launch of full-scale targeted operations across the country to hunt down terrorists. More than 100 hardcore terrorists have already been taken out in intelligence-based operations (IBOs) throughout the country, government and security estimates suggest.
Moreover, the prime minister designated NSA Janjua as the focal person between the government and security agencies regarding the full-scale counterterrorism drive.
“This war will end, and it will conclude with the victory of our people, including our positive values that bind us,” Premier Nawaz said in a statement. “For the past many years, we have been fighting enemies both within and from abroad. We have faced dark days in our history. However, we have always come through with a resilience that has been an inspiration for the world.”
“It is time for us to unite and fight against the radicals … [whether] they be inside or coming from the outside. I direct and authorise my armed forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate the enemy wherever it is with the full force of the state,” he added while chairing the top-level meeting in Sehwan.
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According to the statement, the Sindh chief secretary briefed the prime minister on the grisly suicide attack in Sehwan, which has so far claimed 88 lives. The premier specifically directed the Sindh government to ensure foolproof security at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the target of Thursday’s attack. “The Sindh chief minister assured the prime minister that each possible measure will be taken to improve the security of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine and other shrines in the province.”
Requesting anonymity, a government official privy to the matter said the instructions to eliminate the terrorists were issued sensing the gravity of the situation. “Extraordinary situation demands extraordinary steps.” He said the terrorists taken out in targeted operations across the country also included those who escaped during the infamous jailbreaks in Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan a few years back. “If you put these people in jail, they run way. If you present them before courts no one is going to testify against them out of fear. You only have the option to get rid of them.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2017.