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‘Nation Will Never Forgive Us’

by Aamir Iqbal
Oli Scarff—AFP

Oli Scarff—AFP

P.M. Sharif tells all-parties conference extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures.

If the government fails to take solid measures against the terrorist threat facing Pakistan, the nation will never forgive us, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday.

“The entire nation is looking to the political and military leadership to take concrete against the killers of Pakistan’s future [generation] in Peshawar,” he said. “We cannot allow terrorists to continue their activities.”

The prime minister was addressing an All Parties Conference summoned to discuss a proposed National Action Plan compiled by representatives of parliamentary parties following the Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar that left 150 dead—134 of them schoolchildren.

“Terrorism is a cancer that we need to rid [Pakistan] of,” said Sharif, adding that careful consideration needed to be given to how banned groups could resurface under new names without hindrance. “Without effective counter-terrorism laws, we cannot win this war,” he added.

The prime minister told the APC that the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb had been launched by the military after peace talks had failed and was already achieving results. “For the first time, the political leadership and the military are on the same page in ensuring terrorism is eradicated,” he said. “Such extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures, otherwise history will not forgive us for failing to recognize the gravity of the situation.”

Sharif said no one wanted to indulge in blame games. “Even the president and military leadership of Afghanistan have assured us that their soil will not be used against Pakistan in any way,” he said, adding that if any parliamentarians had concerns about the government’s response to extremism, they should share them at the APC.

Also on Wednesday, interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told media of the contents of the proposed National Action Plan. “We are going to form a new Quick Response Force with the recruitment of 5,000 soldiers who will be trained on professional lines to combat terroristm,” he said. “Of these, 1,000 will be deployed in Islamabad, while the remainder will be deployed across the four provinces,” he added.

The interior minister said the government also wanted to enforce a media blackout of terrorists. “Terrorists will no longer to be able to issue threats through media,” he said.

Pakistan Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif also addressed the APC, updating them on the progress of Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan and Khyber-One in Khyber Agency. “We need decisive action to root out terrorism from Pakistan,” he said. “The results of both Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-One are quite good,” he added.

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