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Resolve to target militants of every region, colour or sect

By Our Staff Reporter 2017-03-04
ISLAMABAD: As the civil and military leaders vowed on Friday to continue `indiscriminate` counterterrorism operations with `full might`, they also stressed maintaining national consensus on the hght against terrorists.

This resolve was expressed at a high-level national security meeting, which was the first huddle of its kind since the army announced operation Raddul Fasaad last week after a spate of terrorist attacks across the country that brought into question the sustainability of the `successes` achieved through the military`s operation Zarb-i-Azb and over 26,000 intelligence-based and combing operations.

The meeting presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was meant to review the progress of counterterrorism operations under operation Raddul Fasaad.

The participants of the meeting included Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Chiefof the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua and ISI Director General Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar.

Noticeable among those who did not attend the meeting were Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and the foreign secretary. Both were a regular feature at these national security sessions in the past. Mr Fatemi had on Friday attended another meeting at the PM House with a Chinese delegation that preceded the national security session.

`The participants agreed to continue the offensive against terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations with the fullest might of the state,` the PM Office said after the meeting, adding that the operations focusing on urban areas were open-ended and would continue till the achievement of the targets.

At least nine terrorists have been killed and about 650 people suspected of having links with terrorist groups arrestedin different parts of the country since the start of the operations almost a week ago.

The army suffered its first casualties on Thursday when two soldiers were killed in an intelligence-based operation against a terrorist hideout in FR Bannu.

The meeting recalled thatRaddul Fasaad reflected the national resolve against terrorism and underscored that it should be kept intact being the key to success in this fight. `National unity and support are indispensable for successful implementation of the anti-terror strategy,` the participants asserted.

Some of the measures, particularly taken by the authorities in Punjab during the ongoing drive, had hinted that Pakhtuns were being singled out and harassed.

This has been resented by human rights activists and civil society.

Although the press statement did not make a direct reference to the issue, the emphasis on maintaining national unity pointed towards a likely course correction.

Moreover, the reiteration of the need for maintaining the national unity came a day before the Pakistan Peoples Party, which is yet to join the consensus on another tenure for military courts for trial of civilian suspects due to reservations over elimination of a clause relating to religious and sectarian terrorism in the draft legislation, holds its multiparty conference on the issue.

`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,` PM Sharif said.