In both camps

COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's in-camera briefing to the parliamentarians on the situation in Swat elicited a unanimous stand in favour of the military operation. This unity among the leadership on an issue of such great importance augurs well for the federation. The Taliban were using Swat as a base to spread their network to other parts of the country and carry out suicide attacks across the country. They were also advocating a way of life that was neither in accordance with the spirit of Islam nor the vision of the founding fathers of the country. The government's attempts to hammer out a negotiated settlement of the conflict had met with little success because the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan could not reconcile itself to the idea of accepting the writ of the state. Now, all eye are set on the APC that would be held on Monday in which the government would ask political parties for their approval of the military operation in Malakand Division. It appears as if Gen Kayani's in-camera session has by and large succeeded in persuading the politicians that operation be allowed to go on. But this doesn't seem to be the case because none of the politicians who attended the session preferred to confirm to media their approval of the army action. This question has arisen since some of the parliamentarians from major parties have been opposing the government's strategy in the National Assembly. Consider PML(N) for instance. On the one hand, PML(N) Chief Mian Nawaz Sharif has said that his party stood with the government and the Army, on the other, keeping in view the statements made by Makhdoom Javaid Hashmi and others, it looks as if the PML(N) is opposed to the military operation. What is more, Khawaja Saad Rafique has held the government and the army accountable for what he calls the mess in Swat. This implies a lack of consistency in their stand. JUI(F), more or less, presents a similar picture as it keeps changing its stance. Maulana Fazlur Rehman though he agreed that the Taliban had to be reined in, criticized the government for not taking the Parliament on board. Meanwhile, NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussein feels that the military action should be extended to other parts of the NWFP and FATA. One must not doubt his commitment but this is an extreme position. The government is already hard put dealing with the IDP's that have fled their homes in Malakand region. Rather than opening up new venues for military operations, the campaign in Swat ought to lead ultimately to understanding and peace.

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