ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Friday the government was determined to root out extremism and militancy from the country.
“We pledge that we will not allow the future of our children to be endangered by the militant mindset.
“We pledge that enemies of Pakistan will never be allowed to succeed. We pledge that we will uproot this menace of extremism and militancy,” the prime minister said in a brief statement to the media after visiting schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai who is fighting for her life at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC).
In a clear reference to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Prime Minister Ashraf said it was the same group which had assassinated Ms Benazir Bhutto and “we pledge that we will not surrender the soul of the nation to them”.
The terrorist attack on Malala appears to have galvanised both the military and civilian leadership into taking some bold decisions. In a forceful statement issued after the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee meeting held on Thursday, the military high-ups declared to render any sacrifice in the fight against terrorists.
The prime minister called for unity against the threat from a bigoted and radicalised mindset, which wants to rob us of our cherished values of peace, pluralism, moderation, tolerance and passion for knowledge. The attack on Malala is not a crime against an individual but a crime against humanity and an attack on our core moral and social values”.
He said the nation stood united in condemning the brutality and degradation of those who perpetrated this heinous crime and the poisoned mindset which sought to destroy the country.
Paying tribute to the young Malala who is still in critical condition, Mr Ashraf said she had created a national level movement across the country and rightly turning out to be the torch-bearer for girls who wanted to follow in her footsteps.
“The extremists attacked Malala because they were scared of the power of her vision,” said the prime minister.
With the military and civilian leadership taking a hard line against Taliban, the question being asked is if the PPP government is ready to take the ownership of the military operation in North Waziristan.
According to political insiders, exercise to create consensus on the political front similar to the one before the army went into Swat valley against Taliban in 2009, was expected.
At that time, the government got a unanimous resolution passed from two houses of parliament in favour of the operation which the military successfully carried out in the Malakand division.
By taking leaders of allied parties to visit Malala, the prime minister indicated that an effort to this effect was already under way. He was accompanied by Farooq Sattar of MQM, Senator Haji Adeel of ANP, PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, PPP General Secretary Jahangir Badar, Federal Ministers Qamar Zaman Kaira, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Sheikh Waqas Akram and former Jamat-i-Islami MNA from Islamabad Mian Mohammad Aslam.
Punjab Chief Minster Shahbaz Sharif made a separate visit to the AFIC and inquired after the health of Malala.
“At this point and time, neither the PPP nor the military leadership can afford to have a solo flight. They need to have an across-the-board political consensus for a military operation in North Waziristan,” said a PPP lawmaker close to the top leadership.
And after the unprecedented national outrage against the Taliban for the attack on Malala, “I believe it’s the right time to build momentum if the army is at all interested in launching a full-fledged operation in North Waziristan,” the PPP leader said.
Talking to Dawn, a PPP minister said “eventually a decision for the military operation in the North Waziristan will be taken at the level of Defence Committee of the Cabinet”.
President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday telephoned Ziauddin Yousufzai, the father of Malala. The president expressed grief and shock over the incident and strongly condemned the barbaric act of Taliban.
He said that through such acts the militants had shown their real face to the world.
The president said that Taliban would never succeed in shaking the resolve of the people and the government to confront the menace head on.