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Pakistan 'reinvigorates' national counter-terrorism campaign

Pakistan 'reinvigorates' national counter-terrorism campaign

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan on Saturday announced the launch of a "reinvigorated" national counter-terrorism campaign to "eradicate extremism and terrorism from the country."

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made the announcement while chairing a meeting of the country's top counter-terrorism body in the capital Islamabad, according to a statement from his office.

The meeting was attended by three armed forces chiefs, as well as chief ministers from all four provinces and the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

"The prime minister approved a reinvigorated and re-energized national counter-terrorism campaign through the launching of operation Azm-e-Istehkam (determination for durability) with a consensus of all stakeholders including the provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, symbolizing the national resolve to eradicate extremism and terrorism from the country," the statement added.

The campaign will integrate and synergize multiple lines of effort to combat the menaces of extremism and terrorism comprehensively and decisively, it said.

"The renewed and full-blown kinetic efforts of the armed forces will be augmented by full support from all Law Enforcement Agencies, empowered by effective legislation to address legal voids that hinder effective prosecution of terrorism-related cases and award of exemplary punishments to them," it added.

The campaign is launched amid an escalating wave of terrorism, which has primarily targeted security forces in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Balochistan provinces in recent years.

According to an annual security report issued by the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Pakistan witnessed 1,524 violence-related fatalities and 1,463 injuries from 789 terror attacks and counter-terror operations in 2023, marking a record six-year high.

 


- Security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan

In the politico-diplomatic domain, the meeting resolved that efforts will be intensified to curtail the operational space for terrorists through regional cooperation.

The forum also reviewed measures to ensure "foolproof" security for Chinese nationals in the country.

Following the prime minister’s approval, new standard operating procedures (SOPs) were issued to relevant departments, which will enhance mechanisms for providing comprehensive security to Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

The development comes a day after visiting Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, Liu Jianchao, urged Islamabad to strengthen security for Chinese nationals working on multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan.

His remarks referred to multiple attacks on Chinese nationals across Pakistan over the past few years.

The $65 billion CPEC aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan, through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

To fight the menace of terrorism, Pakistan has launched two operations known as Raddul Fasad and Zarb-e-Azb since 2014. The latest is a reinvigorated effort to tackle terrorism and named as Azm-e-Istehkam.

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