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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
10 Muharram 1446  

Asif, Tarar slam PTI for opposing Operation Azm-i-Istehkam

PTI Chairman Gohar says Parliament should be taken into confidence
A combination of pictures show Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and PTI Chairman Gohar Khan during the National Assembly session on June 23, 2024. Photos via Facebook/National Assembly of Pakistan
A combination of pictures show Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and PTI Chairman Gohar Khan during the National Assembly session on June 23, 2024. Photos via Facebook/National Assembly of Pakistan

Two members of the treasury benches slammed on Sunday the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for allegedly opposing the newly approved counterterrorism campaign Operation Azm-i-Istehkam as the former ruling party called for taking Parliament into confidence before taking any such decision.

“We do not want to take any step that can be targeted under the guise of political interests. If they have any objections, then God-willing, when that issue will be put before this House, they can also speak on it,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said in his speech during the National Assembly session convened for to hold debate on the budget.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved a reinvigorated national counter-terrorism campaign by launching the operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ as the South Asian country deals with the rise in terrorist attacks.

“Azm-e-Istehkam will integrate and synergise multiple lines of effort to combat the menaces of extremism and terrorism in a comprehensive and decisive manner,” according to a statement issued after the Central Apex Committee on National Action Plan (NAP) in Islamabad.

It was approved with the consensus of all stakeholders including provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Moreover, a high-ranking Chinese official who visited Pakistan earlier this week also highlighted security as the foremost challenge threatening the the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) future.

“Security threats are the main hazards to CPEC cooperation. As people often say, confidence is more precious than gold. In the case of Pakistan, the primary factor shaking the confidence of Chinese investors is the security situation,” Liu Jianchao had emphasised.

But the PTI was of the view that Parliament should be taken into confidence before any intelligence-based or full-fledged operations in certain districts or villages or tehsils.

The opposition wanted to speak on a point of order that the “military leadership, as has been done in the past, give an in-camera briefing and detail the situation,” he added.

When Asif started his speech, SIC MNAs chanted “military operation unacceptable” slogans. They then staged a walkout from the assembly but were later persuaded to return by government members.

The defence minister reminded the PTI that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, who also belongs to Imran Khan’s party, was present in apex committee meeting.

“They [opposition] are standing with the terrorists by protesting here today. They are protesting against the martyrs of the Pakistan Army and the army that is still making sacrifices to [counter] terrorism. They have not backed off from their May 9 stance even today,” the minister said.

He added that the government would take such a proposal to the cabinet and hopefully in Parliament. “We don’t want to take any such step which can be made an excuse for political interests. If they have any objection, they can speak about it when it comes in Parliament.”

‘Any apex committee cannot supersede Parliament’

PTI’s Gohar Khan said that the apex committee of any level cannot supersede the august House as Parliament was supreme.

“We want that despite strong reservations that strangers are sitting [on treasury benches] that Parliament’s supremacy remains intact and any decision should be taken with this House’s consensus and recommendation,” he said.

For this reason, Gohar added that the PTI demanded that the federal government give an in-camera briefing to the House and that any action should be taken after the lawmakers’ recommendation.

While speaking about the government’s resolution, he said that there were some websites where blasphemy was committed every day and urged the government to take action against them.

Gohar advised the federal government to hold control of FIRs from the provinces as the latter were dependent on the Centre institutions to resolve the issue. According to the PTI chief, it was an issue of the federal government.

“I asked them to don’t make it person-specific as you say that crowd should not lynch people, I asked them to add that any institution should not lynch us,” he said and claimed that their members were being daily lynched.

‘IMF dictated budget’

Earlier, during the budget debate, PPP leader Mahesh Malani criticised the budget, calling it a “difficult budget dictated by the IMF.”

JUI-F member Shahida Akhtar was also concerned over the budget. She questioned the excessive privileges granted to independent power producers) and demanded an audit of such companies.

MQM-P lawmaker Aminul Haq pointed out that the budget was consumed by interest payments on loans, highlighting the country’s precarious financial situation. He urged the government to impose an agricultural tax on those profiting from wheat sales, citing the examples of Afghanistan and India.

PPP leader Khursheed Shah stated that the budget would further exacerbate the people’s difficulties. He stressed the need for addressing the issue of population growth, arguing that better control over the population would lead to a more effective budget.

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