Senate witnesses uproar over operation Azm-e-Istehkam

House adopts budget proposals to NA

ISLAMABAD    -   The Senate on Monday witnessed uproar over the plan to launch a fresh counterterrorism military operation in the country after the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) severely opposed the move by holding a protest in the house.

The government defended the decision of the Central Apex Committee chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to launch the operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ aimed at defeating terrorism and extremism and restoring peace. Amidst outcry, the house adopted the report of the committee on finance and revenue, containing recommendations to the National Assembly on the Finance Bill 2024.

Leader of the Opposition in the House Syed Shibli Faraz, voicing concern over the planned operation, said the word ‘Istehkam’ (stability) had political connotations.

“We are unable to understand how we should take this operation,” he said, adding that if the purpose was to bring Istehkam (stability), then some steps other than the operation were needed. The stability is connected with economics and is a branch of law and order in the society, he said.

The opposition leader went on to say that the stability would remain evasive unless there was rule of law, supremacy of the constitution and respect to the true mandate of the people in the country. “We cannot get stability unless we hold a free election,” he said, adding that the February 8 elections were the mother of all rigged elections.

He said that fabricated cases were framed against PTI leader Imran Khan, the party workers and women to put them behind the bars. He said that brutality had been unleashed against PTI workers in Punjab. “Let me know how stability will come in the given situation, how can you think that economic indicators will improve in the country, there will be prosperity and the constitution will safeguard lives and properties of the people,” he said. He questioned how a military operation could bring stability in these circumstances.

In a tit-for-tat response, the Parliamentary Leader of Pakistan People Party (PPP) in the House Sherry Rehman questioned the motive behind PTI’s opposition to the operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam.’

“The PTI is protesting against the anti-terrorism operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). I fail to understand their opposition to an operation aimed at restoring peace and order,” she said. The PTI Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur was present in the Apex Committee that decided to launch the operation, she said and questioned, “”What was his stance there?”

She argued that the operation had become inevitable following a recent rise in terrorism. The Pakistan Army, civilians and children have made significant sacrifices against terrorism, with over 70,000 of our people martyred, she said. “Does PTI want terrorism to rise again in the country? These are the same individuals who advocated for opening offices of the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan), claiming the Taliban are our friends,” she said amid slogans raised by PTI in the house while opposing the operation.

She recalled that the PTI even didn’t sign the resolution passed by the National Assembly, the other day, against the incident of extremism in Swat.

“Stability in the country will only come when the law and order situation is under control. They seem to want Pakistan’s economy and stability to falter, which we will not allow,” she asserted while referring to the PTI.

At the end, Senator Sherry moved a resolution against recent mob lynchings in Swat and Sargodha, which was passed by the house by a majority vote.

“The house unequivocally condemns the recent mob lynchings in Swat and Sargodha of persons accused of offences pertaining to religion. The right to life is the most fundamental right as guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan, and must remain inviolable,” reads the resolution.

The house, through the resolution, urged the federal and provincial governments to ensure the safety and security of all persons living in Pakistan, including religious minorities and vulnerable communities.

The resolution also demanded of the provincial governments of KP and Punjab to take all necessary measures to ensure that the persons involved in these heinous crimes are identified, investigated and prosecuted without delay. “The house expects the courts dealing with these cases to ensure justice as per the timelines provided in the law,” it concluded.

Later, the Parliamentary Leader of Awami National Party in the House Aimal Wali Khan, speaking on his turn, also rejected the proposed military operation. “We reject this new operation. It does not mean we support terrorists…,” he underlined.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt