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Pakistan Launches ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ to Reinvigorate National Counter-Terrorism Efforts

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government approved a revitalized national counter-terrorism campaign, launching Operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ with the consensus of all stakeholders on Saturday. This operation symbolizes the national resolve to eradicate extremism and terrorism from the country.

Operation Azm-e-Istehkam was launched during a Central Apex Committee meeting on the National Action Plan (NAP), chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, with agreement from provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“Azm-e-Istehkam will integrate and synergize multiple lines of effort to combat the menaces of extremism and terrorism in a comprehensive and decisive manner,” said a press release from the PM Office Media Wing.

The meeting included key federal ministers such as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Interior Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, and Information Minister Attaullah Tarar. Chief ministers from all provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan, services chiefs, chief secretaries, and senior civilian, military, and law enforcement officials were also present.

The forum conducted a comprehensive review of the ongoing counter-terrorism campaign and assessed the internal security situation.

“The forum reiterated that the fight against extremism and terrorism was Pakistan’s war and was 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 statement added.

The progress on the multi-domain tenets of the National Action Plan was scrutinized, with particular emphasis on identifying and addressing implementation shortcomings.

The necessity for a comprehensive and reinvigorated counter-terrorism strategy, founded on complete national consensus and system-wide synergy, was underscored.

In the politico-diplomatic domain, the forum resolved to intensify efforts to curtail the operational space for terrorists through regional cooperation.

Renewed and full-scale kinetic efforts of the armed forces will be supported by law enforcement agencies, empowered by effective legislation to address legal voids that hindered the effective prosecution of terrorism-related cases and the awarding of exemplary punishments.

The campaign will be 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 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, enhancing mechanisms for providing comprehensive security to Chinese citizens.

Pakistan has seen a surge in terrorist activities, particularly in KP and Balochistan, since the outlawed militant group Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended its ceasefire with the government in November 2022.

According to an annual security report 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.

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