Azm-e-Istehkam: Govt 'decides to initiate national dialogue' on new anti-terror operation

Sources say PM Shehbaz Sharif has taken cabinet members into confidence over new operation's scope

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of Central Apex Committee of National Action Plan on June 22, 2024. — APP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of Central Apex Committee of National Action Plan on June 22, 2024. — APP
  • PM takes cabinet member into confidence over operation's scope.
  • Premier to convene APC to build consensus on operation.
  • Govt says anti-terror drive is not "large-scale" military operation.

Finalising its strategy regarding Operation Azm-e-Istehkam, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led government has decided to initiate a national dialogue to root out terrorism and extremism in the country, sources told Geo News on Thursday.

PM Shehbaz, the sources added, has taken cabinet members into confidence over the new counter-terrorism operation's scope and the reason behind launching the new anti-terror drive.

Last month, the federal cabinet approved the decisions taken by the National Action Plan's Central Apex Committee including the launch of Operation Azm-e-Istehkam.

The sources say that the security forces handed over the cleared areas from the terrorists to the provincial governments.

"Due to the failure of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, terrorists returned to the cleared areas," the added.

The government's decision drew reservations from several political parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the Awami National Party (ANP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and others.

In response, the Centre has maintained that "no large-scale military operation is being launched" in the country which might result in mass evictions and has reassured that the matter will be brought before the parliament.

PM Shehbaz has also decided to convene an all-parties conference (APC) to evolve consensus on the operation with PTI founder Imran Khan supporting the initiative, saying his party would attend the government-hosted huddle.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army has also denounced the undue criticism against the newly launched anti-terrorism operation stating that the "vision" was being misrepresented deliberately for "vested interests".

The military’s media wing said the new operation is aimed at harnessing the national counter-terrorism efforts in a synchronised manner to dismantle the nexus of terrorism and illegal spectrum in the country for enduring stability and economic prosperity.

"Forum noted with concern the unwarranted criticism by some quarters and deliberate misrepresentation of the vision, only for furthering their vested interests," the ISPR had said. 

Pakistan has witnessed a significant surge in terrorist attacks in recent months resulting in scores of both civilian and security forces' casualties.

Pakistan has time again called on Afghanistan's Taliban-led administration to prevent its soil from being used by various terrorist organisations against Pakistan — an allegation Kabul has denied.