Pakistan to launch all-out counterterrorism operation amid severe political and economic crisis : Peoples Dispatch

Pakistan to launch all-out counterterrorism operation amid severe political and economic crisis : Peoples Dispatch


Pakistan, already reeling under a severe economic and political crisis, was hit by two bomb explosions on Monday, April 10, in the city of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province. Four people were killed and 22 injured—most of them civilians.

The attack targeted police vehicles and responsibility claimed by the militant group Balochistan Liberation Army. This latest terror attack follows just days after Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement claimed to have arrested the leader and founder of the banned Baloch National Army (BNA) Gulzar Imam, alias Shambay, on Friday, April 7.

Also on Friday, Pakistan’s top decision making body on security, the National Security Committee (NSC), agreed to launch an “all–out comprehensive counter-terrorism operation” against armed groups in the country. The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDA) coalition government led by PM Shehbaz Sharif arrived at the decision at a high-level meeting of the Committee.

According to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office, Friday’s meeting was held in continuity with a previous meeting that was organized following the deadly terror attack in January this year inside a mosque in Peshawarwhich had killed 80 people. The attack was claimed by the militant organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban.

In recent months, Pakistan has witnessed an increasing number of terror attacks, which have been linked to the return of Taliban groups in Pakistan and beyond the Durand Line in Afghanistan.

Significantly, the NSC meeting comprised top government and military officials and concluded that the spiraling security situation was a result of the TTP “being allowed to return to the country,” referring to the talks with the militant group that were pursued by the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s political crisis

Pakistan is currently also witnessing major political instability as the judiciary and the federal government are in a tussle over delayed provincial elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Earlier this year, the PTI governments in the two provinces were dissolved. The federal government led by Sharif, who has been in power since April 2022, has delayed the elections in these provinces citing the present economic and security situation in the country.

On April 6, Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting a Supreme Court order on holding snap elections in the two provinces. The Supreme Court—in its order on April 4—had quashed the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) to delay elections in Punjab—the largest and most populous province of Pakistan—from April 30 to October 8, due to the economic crisis.

Soon after the apex court’s announcement, the prime minister called for a national security meetingfollowing which, he categorically rejected the decision of the three-member bench of the Supreme Court, stressing that his cabinet will not implement it.

On April 6, Balochistan Awami Party’s legislator Khalid Magsi tabled a motion in the Assembly which stated that “this house rejects the..decision of the three-member bench and binds the prime minister and the cabinet not to implement the unconstitutional and unlawful decision.”

Several activists and opponents of the incumbent government have also expressed concern over the delay in holding national elections. These include former PM Imran Khan, who questioned the agenda of the ruling dispensation: “It is now clear what PDM wants—any which way to get out of elections,” he tweeted.

While the contesting claims over the conduct of the forthcoming national elections continue, problems of governance have only added to the grievances of the poorwho have been struggling with soaring inflation, a food crisis, lack of safe drinking water, and access to healthcare.





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