TTP resettlement led to Operation Azm-i-Istehkam: Khawaja Asif

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday asked for not comparing the planned Operation Azm-i-Istehkam with the military actions taken against terrorists in the past, saying there were no no-go areas in Pakistan unlike the previous state of affairs when the Taliban had complete control over regions like Swat and erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The state writ is place across the country, barring in some areas where the Taliban have control in night hours, the minister told a press conference at the PML-N headquarters in Model Town, as he also mentioned the results of allowing the terrorists to relocate to Pakistan.

He said the operation had been envisaged to arrest the rise in terrorism activities in recent months and mentioned that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur did not raise any objection to the proposed operation at the Apex Committee meeting held in an attempt to revive the National Action Plan.

National Security and Consensus 

Noting that the operation is a national security need and not a political move, Khawaja Asif said there should be not only a complete consensus but also a unified action on the part of national institutions. There shouldn’t be a scenario where the terrorists [and their facilitators] get relief from courts, he warned.

He also dispelled the impression that the Operation Azm-i-Istehkam would be imposed unilaterally and answered the points mentioned by not only the PTI but also the likes of ANP and JUI-F.

The decision taken at the Apex Committee meeting would be discussed at a federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday (today) and the later debated upon in the parliament, he said.

Consequences of terrorists resettlement 

He also mentioned that operation was required to root out the bases of TTP (Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan) and other terrorist groups who were allowed [by the then Imran Khan-led PTI government] to return and resettle in the tribal region. They were using their hideouts to carry out attacks in other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Khawaja Asif added.

Intelligent-based in nature 

Explaining the nature of the proposed plan while refuting the misunderstandings being created by some circles, the defence minister said the operation would be intelligence based in its nature to specifically targeting the terrorists.

It won’t resemble the operation held previously in Swat when the military had to move in to retake the control of the region, resulting in displacement of local population, he said in response to some questions.

Attempt to sabotage Chinese investment  

Answering a question, Khawaja Asif said the terrorists were trying to sabotage economic development and Chinese investment in Pakistan – a clear reference to the repeated attacks carried out on Chinese nationals working in different parts of the country.

China has been sharing his concerns on this issue again and again. That’s why Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his recent visit to China had assured the hosts of providing blanket security of its nationals and companies in an attempt to convince them to invest in Pakistan.

Later, a top Chinese official during his stay in Islamabad again listed security as the biggest concern and threat to future of any investment by his country.