Friday, May 8, 2009

PM declares all-out war against militants

Gilani orders armed forces to launch operation; says govt not to bow before terrorists; seeks nation’s support; announces Rs 1 bn for IDPs

By Asim Yasin

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday ordered the armed forces to launch an operation against the militants and terrorists so as to flush them out completely from Swat and Malakand in order to ensure security, restore honour and dignity of the homeland and for the protection of the people.

“The government will not bow before the militants and terrorists but will force them to lay down their weapons and will not compromise with them,” he said in his 20-minute televised address to the nation on Thursday night.

The prime minister, before addressing the nation, had an extensive discussion with the civil and military leadership. On Wednesday, he held a lengthy meeting with Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani while on Thursday he held crucial meetings with Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and parliamentarians belonging to Swat and Malakand division. Following these hectic meetings, PM Gilani addressed the nation, announcing the launching of the operation against the militants and terrorists.

In his 20-minute speech, the prime minister also appealed to the nation, political leadership, civil society, religious leaders and all the institutions of the country to lend their complete support to the government and the armed forces for the cause of Pakistan.

The prime minister said the time had come to show unity in our ranks and stand up against those who wanted to make Pakistan of Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal hostage on gunpoint. “The nation should get united and support the armed forces and the government to foil their designs,” he appealed to the nation.

The prime minister also said that one billion rupees had been provided for the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). He said employment would be given to one member of each family that had lost any of its members at the hands of terrorists.

The premier also talked about his government’s seriousness to implement the Nizam-e-Adl agreement, saying that since the day one the government took seriously the situation in Swat and made efforts to resolve the issue through dialogue. “The federal government even respected the agreement signed by provincial government of the NWFP and took this agreement to parliament. “We got a consensus from parliament and after it, the president signed it without any delay,” he said.

The prime minister said for the peace in swat, the government had sustained internal and external pressure but stuck to the agreement. “There was criticism on the government that it took an internal decision on external pressures but the peace deal in Swat proved that it was taken in the best national interest and according to the wishes of people of Pakistan,” he added.

The prime minister said the accord envisaged that after the enforcement of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, militants would lay down arms for the sake of complete peace in the Malakand division. However, he said the militants continued violating the accord, attacked security forces and targeted government installations and buildings. “They started taking hostile actions against the constitution, parliament, democracy and judiciary, which amounted to challenging the writ of the government, necessitating the decisive action,” he added.

He said the militants misconstrued the government’s desire for peace as its weakness. He said the government had decided not to bow down before the terrorists and extremists and would force them to lay down their arms.

He said the government was determined to protect life and property of the people at all costs and there could be no compromise on it. He said aggressive activities of the militants had forced hundreds of thousands of people to migrate from their homes and they deserved our fullest attention.

The prime minister said the country was facing security and economic challenges and both were interlinked. He asked the people to come forward to safeguard the sovereignty of Pakistan. “We would not allow anyone to disrupt peace,” he said and added, “We would not hesitate to offer any sacrifice in eliminating those who are bent upon disturbing peace of the nation.”

He urged the Ulema and Mashaikh to help project Islam’s true spirit. “We have to highlight before the world that there is no place in Islam for suicide attacks and that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood,” he maintained. He said it was a baseless propaganda that Islam was spread through the force of sword.

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