Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called an All Party Conference (APC) on February 7 and invited all the national political leaders, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, to mull on the growing threat of extremism and terrorism.
The prime minister’s decision to summon the APC to discuss ways to overcome the current national challenges and invite all national-level political leaders, including PTI chief, has come days after the Peshawar police lines carnage, which snuffed more than 100 lives when a suicide bomber blew himself up during noon prayers inside a mosque.
Previously, former premier Nawaz Sharif had convened a multi-party conference in Peshawar after the APS massacre and invited all parties represented in parliament, including PTI, to join hands and forge a renewed commitment to fight terrorists and extremists. The PTI chairman had attended the grand meeting of political elite last time and all eyes would be on him if he attends or avoids APC.
An official statement said the APC will discuss the key challenges being faced by the country, including the terrorist attack on the mosque at the Peshawar Police Lines on January 30. It said that the APC will be held at Islamabad on February 7.
The premier’s decision to make the political leaders sit across the table on crucial national-level challenges has been seen as a major political development in the country’s political scene, which has been marred with uncertainty for months now.
Also read: Peshawar mosque bomber identified, was in police uniform: IG K-P
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb told The Express Tribune that PML-N’s Federal Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has formally invited all the national political leaders, including Imran Khan, to attend the APC. She confirmed that APC would discuss the issue of terrorism only and not the economic and political issues.
The official statement said that Sadiq contacted two PTI leaders, former speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and former defense minister Pervez Khattak and invited Imran Khan to participate in the APC on behalf of PM Shehbaz Sharif.
It said that the prime minister through Sadiq has also invited two PTI representatives to attend the Apex Committee meeting on counter terrorism being held in Peshawar on Friday (today). Sadiq while conveying the premier’s message to Qaiser and Khattak requested the PTI leaders to share the names of the nominated representatives of the party.
All stakeholders, police, rangers and senior officers of intelligence agencies will participate in the Apex Committee meeting at the Governor's House. The meeting will mull over the incident of terrorism at the mosque of Peshawar Police Lines and will discuss the measures to eradicate terrorism and up-gradation of the counter-terrorism department (CTD) and the police.
At a time when militancy is raging out of control, the country doesn’t seem to have a concrete plan to deal with the menace of terrorism as PM Shehbaz was found busy till January this year waking up the authorities concerned to improve coordination and efficiency.
In December 2022, PM Shehbaz had expressed grave concerns on a report of the security agencies revealing that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s CTD doesn’t have the capacity to fight terrorism as it itself has become an epicenter of problems owning to lack of resources and manpower at a time when insurgency and terrorism were rearing their ugly head again in the province.
K-P governor proposes APC on election date
Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Governor Haji Ghulam Ali on Thursday proposed an APC for consultation on the date of coming provincial assembly elections, expressing the government’s willingness for holding the polls within 70 days.
Talking to journalists along with Caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan and members of the provincial cabinet at the Chief Minister House, Ali made it clear that the election would take place come what may but stressed that the government wanted peaceful elections.
“We are ready to hold provincial assembly elections in 70 to 90 days but in the prevailing law and order situation, an APC should be called, in which all state institutions should also be invited and the election date should be announced with their consultation,” the governor said.
“I was against the dissolution of the assembly so that members could represent their constituencies. But when the assembly was dissolved, the situation was different,” he continued. “I want peaceful elections, therefore, it will be appropriate to announce the date of election after consultation with all.”
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The governor made a point that if the election were inevitable then why to delay it, emphasising that even the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) used to take everyone into confidence for holding the elections in the country.
Elaborating on his APC proposal, the governor stressed that he was not of that stature to summon political leaders, therefore, an APC should be called. “Political parties come together when it comes to the state. If the state faces threat, it must be protected first.”
When asked about the demand for election date raised by some political parties, the governor referred to the suicide bombing at a mosque in the Peshawar police lines on Monday. “We have been carrying coffins with teary eyes and they are demanding date of election,” he added.
When asked about the accusation from PTI Chairman Imran that the governor did not want the election, Haji Ghulam Ali rejected the charge. “Imran Khan is a seasonal politician. He should do politics but must not lie to the people,” he added.
From 2018 to 2022 – during the second PTI government in K-P – there were 465 terrorist attacks in Peshawar, Mardan, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan districts and elsewhere in which 246 police personnel were martyred.
The provincial government received Rs471 billion from the Centre for maintaining peace and security in the province, he said. “Where did that money go,” the governor asked. “Why are the police stations established in the rented buildings?”
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Azam Khan said that he would follow to his constitutional responsibilities of remaining apolitical, providing all possible assistance to the ECP for holding transparent elections and leave the office after transferring power to the new elected representatives.
He added that the election date would be announced by the ECP and the governor. “It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to conduct the elections and we will fully support the Election Commission in this regard,” Khan said.
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