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Sunday July 21, 2024

Political gridlock

Despite rising terror threat, it looks like it will take more than an effort and a half to get opposition to give its blessings for any counterterror work

By Editorial Board
June 25, 2024
PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan (centre), Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan (centre-right), and Secretary Information Raoof Hasan (centre-left) address the press conference on March 12, 2024 in this still taken from a video. — Facebook/@PTIPunjabPK
PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan (centre), Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan (centre-right), and Secretary Information Raoof Hasan (centre-left) address the press conference on March 12, 2024 in this still taken from a video. — Facebook/@PTIPunjabPK

There is no sign at all that even the most serious of issues will move the PTI and the government closer. Despite the rising terror threat, it looks like it will take more than an effort and a half to get the opposition to give its blessings for any counterterror work. Now – post the announcement of Operation Azm-e-Istehkam’ – Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ali Amin Gandapur has claimed that there was no mention of any kind of [military] operation in the meeting of the Central Apex Committee on National Action Plan (NAP). Before this, PTI leader Asad Qaiser had also said CM KP Gandapur did not mention any discussion regarding a new military operation. The crucial NAP huddle was chaired a couple of days back by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by chief ministers of all provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan, services chiefs, and chief secretaries of the provinces along with other senior civilian, military, and law enforcement agencies officers. The PTI is not alone in its refusal to cooperate; Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has denounced the military operation, calling it an "instability" operation. With PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan saying the legislature must be taken into confidence before any operation is launched and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif saying the opposition is "standing with the terrorists", things are not looking too peachy on the cooperation front. This can only be resolved if all political parties sit together and come up with a consensus.

Pakistan is battling a resurgence of terrorism on its soil. The frequency of terrorist attacks has increased manifold during the last three years. We have sacrificed many lives during these attacks and the security forces are conducting intelligence-based operations across the country. Under these circumstances, the decision taken in the NAP meeting should have had the support of all political parties. Instead, we are seeing contradictory statements from government and opposition quarters. It should be noted that NAP was announced after the horrific tragedy in the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, which followed major operations including Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad against terrorists for their elimination. Now that terrorism has made a comeback, the country needs political consensus on this issue. Launching an operation against terrorists is important given the threat that they pose to the entire country. It is because of terrorism that investors don’t have full confidence in the country; the Chinese are also wary about the security of their countrymen, whereas many security forces personnel have been martyred.

This is why most people are agreed that an operation – military as well as non-military – is needed to remove terrorists from our soil. But like the last time when a political consensus was formed, this time too the government and its allies should call an all parties meeting and take political parties into confidence over the operation so that there is no confusion and all parties are on the same page vis-a-vis the strategy to deal with terrorism. Whatever the reasons for Gandapur now denying having any knowledge about a full-fledged military operation, whether they are political or linked to security concerns, the government should alleviate the PTI’s concerns. Parliament also has to be taken into confidence over these issues. A military offensive without a political consensus cannot succeed. We need the entire political system and people on board.