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Pakistan Reader# 580, 8 April 2023

The National Security Council meeting: Further polarization of national priorities?



Comprehensive, all-round operation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms

Femy Francis

On 7 April, The National Security Committee (NSC) announced the plan to launch an all-comprehensive operation against rising terrorist activities. PM Shehbaz Sharif chaired the meeting that was attended by other senior cabinet members. The post-meeting statement said: “This comprehensive, all-round and comprehensive operation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms from Pakistan will also include efforts at the political, diplomatic security, economic and social levels. A high-level committee has also been formed in this regard and will make recommendations regarding its implementation within two weeks.”
 A notable difference observed in this campaign is that it would target menace on social and other media platforms and not limit itself to ground attackers. The state delegates from the legislature joined to discourse on the report issued by the NSC to account for the responsible and map out punitive measures that need to be taken.
 

Indirect blame on PTI
The committee indirectly blamed the previous regime for allowing dispensation towards TTP and publicly acknowledged the TTP peace talks as a blunder. Furthermore, it linked the efflux of terrorism and said: “Not only were the militants allowed to return without hindrance, but hardcore TTP terrorists were also released from jails in the name of confidence building.”
 
On the contrary, the peace policy aided the returned terrorist in networking with their contacts and conducting major attacks. The statement also said: “The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which was declared a terrorist organisation but against the public expectations and wishes, under the previous policy terrorists were allowed to return without any hindrance. In the name of confidence building, dangerous terrorists of the TTP were released from jails,” They insisted on the importance of providing “relief to people,” and they would not stop this operation until resolved.
 
Big question: Will the focus on anti-terrorism reduce the chances of conducting elections?
The NSC’s report and the massive anti-terrorist operation might lead to the cancellation of conducting elections within the stipulated timeframe. Imran Khan, calls the joining of NSC in the aggravated political climate a move by the current government to avoid elections by pitting them against each other. The narrative to push against the condition of the election would possibly be backed by NSC claims over the instability in the country. Additionally, it was reported that the committee also discussed the possibility of the imposition of an emergency if the situation aggravates.
 
In conclusion
On 8 April, Dawn reports on the unnecessary rift promoted by the current government. The coalition government has set itself on a rather minacious path, over-assuming its power as a legislature. The objected judiciary powers have been part of the system debates since yesteryears, the political parties are using the objection as cover to reject unfavourable verdicts. While the manner of SC proceedings is controversial in nature, it still can't be used as an excuse to reject the court mandate. The coalition is urged to halt their hostility regardless of their fear of the electoral outcome.
The entry of the NSC can be observed as a move used to support their demand of delaying polls narrative. Additionally, their introduction into the political contention can be reckoned as dangerous, as it further divides the institutions that are already polarized. The incumbent government supporting the report and policy submitted by the NSC can further political chaos.
 
References
Kamran Yousaf, “Military op to root out terrorists on the cards,” The Express Tribune, 7 April 2023
Syed Irfan Raza, “ Elections seem less likely as NSC announces anti-terror operations,” Dawn, 8 April 2023
Muhammad Anis, “Soft policy on TTP resulted in new terror wave: NSC,” The News International, 8 April 2023
Editorial, “ Needless turmoil” Dawn, 8 April 2023

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