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Shehbaz cabinet approves Operation Azm-e-Istehkam

PM Shehbaz Sharif says operations will be carried out against terrorists only



Shehbaz cabinet approves Operation Azm-e-Istehkam
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Islamabad: The federal cabinet on Tuesday accorded approval to the decisions taken by the National Action Plan's Central Apex Committee, including Operation Azm-e-Istehkam.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who chaired the meeting, said that citizens would not face any trouble during the operation and neither would their houses be raided.

"Only intelligence-based operations (IBOs) would be carried out against terrorists," PM was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, the Apex Committee gave the go-ahead to the military operation. 

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday ruling out any large-scale military operation said that Azm-e-Istehkam was a multi-domain, multi-agency and whole of system national vision aimed at decisively rooting out the nebulous and shadowy presence of remnants of terrorists, and violent extremism.

The prime minister, chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet, took the members into confidence about the prevailing misunderstanding and speculations about the Azm-e-Istehkam, saying that instead of any large-scale operation, the already ongoing intelligence based kinetic operations would be energized.

In his remarks, he told the members that no additional duty would be imposed on the solar panels to ensure the accessibility of low-cost solar energy to every citizen.

He said the government was planning to put the national economy on a positive trajectory and expressed satisfaction over the country heading towards economic stability.

The prime minister reiterated the resolve to boost the country’s exports by promoting Small and Medium Enterprises and withdrawing privileges from the elite class and those exploiting the national resources. The economic protection of the common man and providing them equal opportunities were among the government’s priorities, he added.

Discussing the annual budget 2024-25, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif instructed the members to ensure their presence in the ongoing budget debate in the parliament.

During the briefing, the cabinet members were informed that the privatisation of the PIA was moving ahead swiftly as companies showing interest in the pre-bidding process were visiting different PIA sites. The bidding of the PIA will be held in the first week of August, it was told.

The prime minister instructed to accelerate the PIA privatisation while ensuring transparency in the process.

On the commerce ministry’s recommendation and request from the World Food Programme of Afghanistan, the federal cabinet approved the transit of a truck from Karachi to Kabul carrying the spare parts of the trucks, just for once on humanitarian grounds.

The body gave the go-ahead to the signing of an MoU between the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Pakistan and that of Saudi Arabia. It also extended till March 2025 the timeframe of an implementation committee on the immovable property of the late Ameer of Bahawalpur, in light of the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling and recommendation of the States and Frontier Regions Division.

The federal cabinet also approved the appointment of the Executive Director of the Frequency Allocation Board.

During the briefing on the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision, the cabinet meeting was told that the country had sufficient stock of sugar available and the Sugar Advisory Board and relevant departments had approved exporting the leftover stock of sugar after taking into account the expected consumption before the next crushing season and assessing the surplus stock.

The prime minister said the government would not tolerate any increase in the sugar price and instructed the formation of a committee to monitor the sugar price and stop its export in case of any possibility of a price hike.

The meeting approved the annual report of the National Economic Council for fiscal year 2022-23 prepared by the planning ministry for tabling before the parliament.

The federal cabinet endorsed the Economic Coordination Committee’s decisions of June 13, 2024; Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases of June 11, 2024 and Cabinet Committee on State Owned Enterprises’s decision of June 20, 2024.

NAP Apex Committee meeting

Earlier, PM Sharif chaired a meeting of the Central Apex Committee on National Action Plan in Islamabad on June 22. The meeting was attended by key ministers of the federal cabinet, including the Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, Interior Minister, Finance Minister, Law Minister, and Information Minister. Additionally, the Chief Ministers of all provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan, Services Chiefs, and Chief Secretaries of the provinces, along with another senior civilian, military, and Law Enforcement Agencies officers, were present.

The forum conducted a comprehensive review of the ongoing counter-terrorism campaign and assessed the internal security situation. The progress on the multi-domain tenets of the National Action Plan was scrutinized, with particular emphasis on identifying shortcomings in the implementation for addressing the same at top priority. The necessity for a comprehensive and reinvigorated counter-terrorism strategy, founded on complete national consensus and system-wide synergy, was underscored.

The Prime Minister approved a reinvigorated and re-energized national counter-terrorism campaign through the launching of Operation *AZM-E-ISTEHKAM*, with the 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.

 AZM-E-ISTEHKAM will integrate and synergize multiple lines of effort to combat the menaces of extremism and terrorism comprehensively and decisively. 

In the politico-diplomatic domain, efforts will be intensified to curtail the operational space for terrorists through regional cooperation. 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 the effective prosecution of terrorism-related cases and award of exemplary punishments to them. 

The campaign will be duly complemented by socioeconomic measures aimed at addressing the genuine concerns of the people and creating an environment that discourages extremist tendencies. The information space will be leveraged to promote a unified national narrative in support of the campaign. 

The forum reiterated that the fight against extremism and terrorism is Pakistan’s war and is absolutely essential for the nation’s survival and well-being. The forum resolved that no one would be allowed to challenge the writ of the state without any exception.

The forum also reviewed measures to ensure foolproof security for Chinese nationals in Pakistan. 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 citizens in Pakistan.