Pakistan’s NSC to crush militants “coming in from Afghanistan”

Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership on Friday reaffirmed their commitment to stamping out terror threats and vowed to relaunch the National Action Plan (NAP) within 15 days to crush what they say are militants “coming in from Afghanistan.”

At Friday’s National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, it was decided that the committee formed for this purpose would present its policy and plan within two weeks.

The NSC’s decision to launch a massive operation looks set to  shrink chances of elections in Punjab.

An official press release issued by the prime minister’s office said: “NSC approved a multi-pronged comprehensive operation with the support of the government and the nation to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the country with a new resolve, determination and valour”.

According to the statement, the committee proclaimed that the recent wave of terrorism was the result “of the soft corner and the absence of a well thought-out policy against the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which was declared a terrorist organization.”

Without directly blaming Imran Khan’s PTI government, the statement noted that “under the previous policy terrorists were allowed to return without any hindrance. In the name of confidence building, dangerous terrorists of the TTP were released from jails.”

“It was noted that due to return of the dangerous terrorists and support of different terrorist organizations to them from Afghanistan, peace and stability, which was the result of innumerable sacrifices and continuous efforts, was affected,” the statement read.

The decisions were made at the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Also in attendance were the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza; Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir; Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Baber; Naval Chief Admiral Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi; chief ministers of four provinces and federal cabinet members.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb meanwhile spoke to local journalists and confirmed that a fresh NAP-like operation against militancy would start within 15 days.

Two similar operations have been carried out in the past. The first during General Pervez Musharraf’s regime in 2002 and the second during the previous PML-N rule in 2014

In a separate statement on Friday, Islamabad announced the arrest of Baloch separatist commander, Gulzar Imam.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the arrest was a major counter-terrorism achievement against separatist insurgency in the restive province.

“Gulzar Imam alias Shambay was apprehended after an innovatively conceived, carefully planned and meticulously executed operation, spanned over months over various geographical locations,” the military’s media wing said in a statement.

The statement, however, did not disclose the location from where Imam was apprehended. It also named the group Imam led as the Baloch National Army.

In response to the arrest, Pakistan’s prime minister tweeted Saturday that the arrest was a big achievement and would “help suppress militancy in Balochistan & usher in a new era of peace.”