KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Monday said that the government had no option but to win the war against terrorism, vowing the scourge would be eliminated from every nook and cranny of the country.

The prime minister said this in his opening remarks while chairing a meeting of the Apex Committee of Sindh held at the Governor House to review the progress on the implementation of National Action Plan and discuss matters related to the overall law and order situation in the province, particularly in Karachi.

Speaking on the occasion, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif said that action should be taken against all criminals in Karachi without any distinction on political, religious or sectarian grounds. He also stressed the need to depoliticise Karachi Police for permanent peace in the city, which plays an important role in the country’s overall economy.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that following the Peshawar school tragedy, the National Action Plan (NAP) was approved by the entire political leadership and the ultimate decision of the state was to eliminate terrorism from the country. He said two of the 20 points of NAP were implemented immediately while rest of the measures had been left to the Apex Committees formed in all provinces.

The provinces are holding meetings of their respective Apex Committees on a regular basis to assess the implementation process, the PM said. He said some provinces were taking swift action to implement NAP while a lot of work is yet to be done by other provinces.

Nawaz Sharif said under NAP the 21st Constitutional Amendment was passed and Army Act was also amended. The country’s future and security were linked to NAP’s implementation and the whole nation was eyeing the tangible results of NAP, he added.

He said the meeting should be briefed about all problems being faced by the law enforcement agencies to help find solutions. He said the Baldia Town factory fire was a grave incident, the chief secretary would also brief the committee about it. The PM also expressed his annoyance over the delay in presenting challan of the Baldia Town factory arson.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, ISI DG Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhter, Corps Commander 5 Corps Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar, Sindh cabinet members Sharjeel Memon and Murad Ali Shah, secretary of Home and Interior, and the Sindh IGP were also present in the meeting.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif in his remarks said that it was critical not only to empower but also depoliticise the police force in Karachi, and that there should be no political interference in postings and transfers of police officers. He also stressed across-the-board action against all criminals. He said better coordination amongst Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and intelligence agencies was mandatory for success in this regard.

General Raheel said meaningful efforts were required as well as an operation without any discrimination against all criminals regardless of ethnic, political, religious and sectarian affinity. Political expediency cannot generate an apolitical response and added that crimes should be dealt as apolitical, and a broad-based consensus and harmony was also a must to capitalise on the gains made during the ongoing operation, he added.

Peace in Karachi means peace in the entire country, for which effective measures need to be taken, General Raheel said. Karachi had played a great role in the country’s formative years and continues to play a role in our economy, he said, adding that peace in Karachi means prosperity for Pakistan. He also said that with transparency and sincerity of purpose the Rangers’ operation creates environment for sustained peace and stability. He said that for enduring peace, political consensus and follow-up was a must in order to capitalise on the space created.

Earlier during the day, the army chief and the prime minister separately arrived in Karachi to review the city’s security situation in the midst of a targeted operation to rid the city of criminal and terrorist elements as well as the implementation of the National Action Plan in the aftermath of the attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School.

Upon his arrival at the Karachi airport, PM Nawaz was welcomed by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and Chief Minister Qaim Ali. Prior to the provincial apex committee meeting, the PM and the COAS also held a meeting at Karachi corps headquarters which was also attended by Karachi Corps Commander Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar.

During the meeting, the prime minister and the army chief were briefed by Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar. The prime minister appreciated the ongoing intelligence-based operation in Karachi in support of Operation Zarb-i-Azb and work on the National Action Plan, according to a statement from Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa.

Upon his arrival in Karachi earlier, General Raheel visited the Rangers Headquarters where he was given a briefing by Sindh Rangers Director General Maj-Gen Bilal Akbar on the ongoing operation and the city’s prevailing security situation. General Raheel Sharif said that the army will go to any extent to support operation and restore peace in Karachi. He went on to say that all possible resources would be provided to restore and maintain security and peace in the city. He also assured the security agencies of all possible support from the military to ensure peace in the city.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also met former president Asif Ali Zardari at Governor’s House where the two discussed a host of issues, including the country’s political situation, implementation of the NAP, ongoing operations in Karachi, North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions.

NNI adds: The Apex Committee decided to continue Karachi operation till attaining the desired results and to extend it to other cities of Sindh. The apex committee decided to impose strict ban on the use of loadspeakers and wall chalking for spreading religious hatred.