Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said on Monday that drug rings are funneling huge sums of money into terrorist outfits and promised to come down hard on narcotics dealers.
“Drug money is being used for promotion of terrorism and therefore it is important that drug dealers are dealt with an iron hand,” he said during a visit to the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Headquarters in Rawalpindi, according to a statement issued by the army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Speaking on the occasion, the army chief said drug peddlers and those involved in its production are as much detrimental to national security as terrorists. “We will break the nexus among drug dealers, financiers and perpetrators of terrorism,” he said. “We will not allow these drug barons to negatively influence and spoil our future generations.”
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ANF Director General Maj-Gen Khawar Hanif gave a detailed briefing to the army chief on various aspects, including operations to counter drug smuggling.
He told Gen Raheel about the latest international and regional drug situation and its negative effects on the society, including ANF strategy and initiatives, for ensuring drug-free society, challenges on the way and Five Years Force Development Plan.
The army chief lauded ANF for making record seizures in 2014 and 2015 which helped to curb the menace of drugs both domestically and internationally.
He also valued the achievements of the force in maintaining poppy-free status for the country.
Pakistan’s top civil and military leaders have underscored the need to heal the widening rift among Afghan Taliban factions before the start of the next round of reconciliation talks between the Afghan government and the militia.
This was agreed in a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday.
According to an official handout, the overall security situation in the country, as well as the Afghan reconciliation process, in the context of the regional situation, was discussed in the meeting.
However, sources privy to the development said the civil and military leadership discussed the way forward for Afghan peace talks in the wake of divisions among the ranks of Afghan Taliban following the death of their supreme leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar.
The army chief apprised the premier about Pakistan’s role as facilitator in the peace talks, which, it said, will be enter a decisive phase in the coming weeks.
Sources said that news of Mullah Omar’s death was deliberately leaked with the consent of all stakeholders in order to give legitimacy to the ongoing talks and to win the trust of the concerned quarters.
The emergence of discord among several factions of Afghan Taliban following the proclamation of Mullah Omar’s death has worried both the Afghan and Pakistan governments. Both sides have decided to work for the resolution of the Taliban’s internal rifts.
Sources said it was hoped that the talks can be restarted within two or three weeks by which time the differences among Afghan Taliban factions can be expected to be more or less settled.
The second round of the talks will be the final phase of the talks and can possibly lead to a breakthrough in the coming weeks.
Sources said the military leadership apprised the civilian leadership that the Taliban’s Shura Council had started its meeting in Afghanistan where efforts are expected to be made to remove the group’s internal differences.
Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has been announced as successor of Mullah Omar while the family of Omar has rejected him as a legitimate head of Afghan Taliban.
Sources said the top civil and military leadership also discussed the role of India in promoting divisions among Afghan Taliban by doling out money among various groups. They also decided to apprise the Afghan government about it.
According to sources, the civil and military leadership vowed to continue the targeted operation in the port city of Karachi and to keep the focus on Karachi’s situation.
They agreed that now it is the duty of the federal government to counter the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s tirade against the state and the security establishment. It was decided that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will continue his press conferences to counter Altaf’s speeches.
Talks with India
The civil and military leadership also discussed India’s new approach to the talks with Pakistan.
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They said India has shifted its policy and will not disengage itself from or postpone the coming talks with Pakistan even if it faces new Gurdaspur-like attacks.
Sources said the civil and military leadership decided to allow the PM’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaja Aziz to start his homework on the talks with India. The top leaders also discussed the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to Pakistan and his plea for diplomatic support on a number of fronts.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2015.
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