ISLAMABAD: The country’s civil and military leadership on Friday reiterated their vow to press ahead with the ongoing countrywide anti-terror drive with “the fullest might of the state” and without “any discrimination based on geographic region, colour or sect.”
The strong-worded statement came after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a top-level security huddle to review the gains made so far in Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, National Security Advisor Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua and other senior military and civilian officials attended the meeting.
Army launches Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad against terrorists across the country
According to informed sources, the closure of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border figured high in the meeting and participants agreed to keep it closed until the targeted ground action in area was completed. “Presently, cleansing, combing and clearing operations are being carried out in the area. It is not advisable to open the border in the middle of this action,” an official source told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.
Reportedly, the security brass and interior minister recommended keeping the border closed while briefing the prime minister on the issue. After detailed discussion, participants decided to diplomatically counter Kabul’s demand of reopening the border and to resist any pressure in this regard, the source said.
Kabul has been urging Islamabad to reopen the border since it was closed on February 16, after 88 people were killed in a suicide bombing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan. The attack was the deadliest in a new wave of terror attacks which have claimed over 100 lives.
“We will open the border on our own terms, not someone else’s,” the insider said. “Opening it without putting in place proper surveillance and immigration procedures attracts a huge risk. Miscreants take advantage of the porous border and penetrate Pakistan from multiple entry points.”
Sources said the Rangers action in Punjab was also discussed in the meeting and the premier was updated on recent arrests and eliminations. The paramilitary force rounded up several terror suspects from Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Rojhan, Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan and Attock on Friday.
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A statement from the Prime Minister’s House said the participants of the meeting unanimously resolved to continue the action till it achieves set targets. “The operation reflects the unilateral national resolve and commitment of complete obliteration of terrorism from the entire country."
It quoted the premier as saying that “across the board consensus among all stakeholders and the overwhelming sentiments of our people to get rid of terrorism and extremism guarantee a comprehensive win in this war.”
“Pakistan has given immense sacrifices in its own war against terrorism and we are fully determined to remain steadfast in our commitment and duty to undertake all steps for eliminating terrorists without any discrimination of geographic region, colour or sect,” he added.
The statement said participants agreed to continue the offensive against terrorism and extremism in all forms and manifestations “with the fullest might of the state … [to] get rid of irritants in our collective objective of ensuring a secure, peaceful and stable Pakistan.”
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Prime Minister’s Adviser Ameer Muqam said, “Border closure for ensuring foolproof security measures is Pakistan’s prerogative. It won’t be closed forever… [but] proper arrangements need to be made before it is reopened.”
He said rejected the impression that Pashtuns are being targeted with the border closure. “I’m Pakhtun myself and I don’t buy any of this. Border has been closed for security reasons and has nothing to do with any ethnicity.”