ISLAMABAD: Opposition legislators in the Upper House of parliament on Monday extended full support to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military operation in North Waziristan Agency.
But they asked for special arrangements for the internally displaced people (IDPs) of the areas concerned. “The opposition supports the military operation launched in NW Agency and stands fully behind the government,” opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan told the House after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to the Senate over the start of a full-fledged military operation in North Waziristan. The entire House supported the military operation.
They were of the view that dealing with militancy is not the job of the government or security forces alone, and called for unity among all the stakeholders, setting aside political differences. They said it is a matter of the existence of Pakistan and observed that the government has wasted a lot of time and energy over peace talks with the Taliban, which has allowed them to re-organise. The senators said four neighbouring countries have also been complaining about terrorism activities in their countries whose main culprits are living in Pakistan.
They advised against distinctions of good and bad Taliban and called for action against terrorists across the country, including south Punjab and Karachi. Before the prime minister’s speech in the Senate, the senators criticised the government for not taking parliament into confidence over such an important matter. Speaking on the occasion ANP’s Senator Ilyas Ahmad Bilor said the government has handed over major installations and big cities to forces, but left Peshawar alone.
Being a front line province, he said the people of Peshawar should not be left at the mercy of the Taliban, and hand it over to the security forces. Supporting action against the militants, PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar demanded answers to a number of questions. He asked why the military, and not the civilian government, announced the operation. He said there is a widespread perception that the military decided to launch the operation, while the “foot-dragging” civilian government followed suit, which would only exacerbate the civil-military divide.
Shah also asked as to what plans had been put in place to rehabilitate the internally displaced persons as was done by the PPP coalition government at the time of the Swat operation in 2009. “In the absence of a proper plan to tackle the mass exodus of people from North Waziristan, we will only add to the frustration and alienation of the affected people,” he said. He inquired about the status of the so-called national internal security policy which was announced with much fanfare by the interior minister some three months ago.Babar said that the security policy had promised to develop a national narrative on militancy, de-radicalisation, legal reforms, reformation of almost 23,000 madrassas and bringing the 26 intelligence agencies under one platform. He said that no allocations had been made in the budget to achieve any of these goals. Meanwhile, Senator Raza Rabbani said the attack on the Karachi airport has exposed the so-called coordination between the 26 intelligence agencies that was promised in the policy. He said there was not a single sentence in the finance minister’s budget speech about ending extremism or about achieving any of the goals laid down in the national security policy. Meanwhile, PPP’s Senator Taj Haider said, “You cannot achieve internal security as long as you patronise some militants for external security purposes”. He also accused the government of Punjab of giving full protection to the Taliban camps in south Punjab.
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