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Surprise Day 27 February

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan had said that Pakistan is a responsible and peace-loving nation and its armed forces are prepared to defend its territorial integrity at all costs. He thanked to Almighty Allah that the PAF had deterred the aggressor (India) who gravely miscalculated and challenged our sovereignty. The Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan was addressing the ceremony of second anniversary of Operation Swift Retort commemorated as Surprise Day at Air Headquarters. Chief of Air Staff commented that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) proved its capability equal to Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of being second to none on the occasion of Operation Swift Retort on February 27, 2019 and established our supremacy in the air. He also appreciated all PAF personnel for their professionalism, valour and commitment during Operation Swift Retort.

Pakistan has always proved to be a peace loving and resilient nation during all challenges since from its inception. Pakistan had suffered various damages on the hands of its stanch rival India ranging from illegal occupation of Muslim majority area of Jammu and Kashmir, separation of East Pakistan, illegal encroachment in Siachen glacier and posed serious atomic threat in South Asia region by detonating atomic weapons in May 1998. India has always demonstrated it’s hegemonic designs in the regional affairs. Pakistan is the single country in the South Asia region, who had always challenged the Indian authoritative polices and didn’t subdue to it.

Being a developing nation, Pakistan had invested more in it’s defense budget to ensure its sovereignty. Pakistan defense forces has always proved their worth through achieving distinction among their counterparts in the world and also achieved exception in their remarkable performance in their domains. Today, Pakistan is a responsible Nuclear State having credible power both in conventional and non-conventional warfare, which has been displayed by our valiant Forces two years back. Although, Pakistan has successfully neutralized Indian aggression through Operation Swift Retort in February 2019, however, it has to be remained more cautious regarding mischievous actions of its eternal rival in future.

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Relation’s Recalibration or a New Plan

A newly released declassified US Intelligence report stated that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The latest version of Khashoggi story has intensified the pressure on the Biden administration to hold the kingdom accountable for a murder that drew worldwide outrage. Shortly after the findings were released, the State Department announced a new policy, called the “Khashoggi Ban,” that will allow the U.S. to deny visas to people who harm, threaten or spy on journalists on behalf of a foreign government. It also said it would impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals who have engaged or threatened dissidents overseas.

The official rebirth of an old assumption or a fact tailored in such a way intentionally to meet the requirement of the issuing state has open up a new chapter in US-Saudi relations.

United States Treasury Department also announced sanctions against a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, who U.S. officials say was the operation’s ringleader. During a media briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has told reporters that the administration intends to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

With the arrival of Biden administration in the white house, the new American great game has started in the Middle East. Players are the same, but the new stage has been set, priorities are the same but the methods to reach the objectives are different. The latest episode of developments illustrates that the things have been arranged in a sequence that within hours of release of the intelligence assessment, the Khashoggi ban has been introduced, sanctions were imposed and announcement for recalibration of US-Saudi relationship has been made in a haste. After two years of killing of a US based Saudi Journalist, the American officials have felt that they should take the journalist’s death “very seriously” and promised to get to the bottom of what happened inside the consulate, in the same go, they acknowledge the Saudi Arabia’s key role on combating terrorism and fighting Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

One thinks, what could be the objectives behind this new Policy pivot of United States. There are a number of possibilities behind this US move against Saudi Arabia. First, to get recognition of Israel from KSA, containment of Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region or launch of diplomatic offensive aimed at targeting Kingdom’s internal laws to provide maximum freedom under so-called policy of human rights protection in the backdrop of Khashoggi case. The current US policy steps reveals that now American has turned its focus toward Saudi Arabia. All these efforts are aimed at creating a great change in internal and external policies of the Kingdom. For this purpose, cooperation from Iran can be sort by the United States in reward of providing some temporary relief in economic sanctions.

Presently, only those states are stable politically and economically in the Middle East region and neighborhood of Israel, where Monarch is ruling and political freedoms are restricted, whereas, all democratic countries are facing internal unrest and chaos. The United States had taken up the story of Jamal Khashoggi and various segments of its systems will continue to explore and continue to give new twists to the story, as reason to more tighten the rope of the Kingdom. However, it is test time for Saudi Arabia, how successfully it can tackle the situation and divert US pressure in coming days.

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FATF and Pakistan

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had emphasized in its recent statement, that Since June 2018, when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and Asia Pacific Group (APG) to strengthen its anti-money laundering (AML)/ Combating Financing terror (CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies, Pakistan’s continued political commitment has led to significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan’. Furthermore, FATF urged Pakistan to continue work on implementing the three remaining items, first, TF investigations and prosecutions target persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities, Secondly TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and last item is effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all designated terrorists under UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373, specifically those acting for or on their behalf.

Pakistan has history of remaining on the grey list of FATF, the international money laundering watch dog. First time Pakistan was placed in grey list in 2009, followed by naming in 2013. FATF exclude Pakistan from grey list in 2015, after successful operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorist groups in FATA.

Later, in the beginning of 2018, Donald J. Trump took office of US President and sorted to coercive policy in response to Pakistan steadfast policy on Afghanistan. The infuriated Donald Trump went to penalized Pakistan through arm twisting by using the Paris based FATF platform. US along with its partners UK, Germany, France, and India moved to enlist Pakistan in FATF’s grey list in 2018. Pakistan joined the group of eight other countries on FATF grey list including Sri Lanka, Syria, Tobago, Tunisia, Yemen, Trinidad, Serbia, and Ethiopia.

After lot of efforts, Pakistan had made significant progress to meet its objectives under FATF action plan, while complying 24 items out of total 27. The remaining three items mentioned by the FATF have more importance not on technical grounds of FATF but on Political grounds set by the Pakistan’s rivals. These items call for measures in respect of investigation of cases of terror financing, prosecution by the courts and lastly complete implementation of the sanction imposed by the UN against terrorist groups including Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIL etc. under UNSC resolution 1267. While UNSC 1373 calls for sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups among UN member states and ensuring formulation of strict laws under international convention of terrorism and their reflection in sever sentences to the convicted terrorists.

Pakistan had worked going out of the way to curb the terrorism in the country. Pakistan had established military courts and served death punishment to the terrorists, which has been opposed by the world. However, the FATF became more political than technical forum. US, India, and their affiliates want to see things happening in their way, which is not possible for Pakistan. However, the government must work to get out of this trap. According to the FATF’s laid down parameters, Pakistan must meet at least half of the items out the total items given under the action plan to get out of grey list. Pakistan would also need approval from 12 out of the FATF’s 39 members to exit the grey list, Pakistan have more in its plate to show, however, it must formulate a plan to escape the enemy’s trap. Pakistan must inform the US not to resist it during next plenary session of FATF in June, otherwise, Pakistan will revisit its cooperation with US in Afghanistan.

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Myanmar Military’s Delusion

Yesterday, members of a group supporting Myanmar’s military junta attacked and injured people protesting the army’s coup of Feb. 1, that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. At least several people were injured in the attacks in Myanmar’s largest city. The chaos complicates an already intractable standoff between the military and a protest movement that has been staging large-scale demonstrations daily to have Suu Kyi’s government restored to power. The member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are urging Myanmar’s military to make some concessions to help ease tensions. The 10-country regional group views dialogue with the generals as a more effective method of achieving compromises than confrontational methods, such as the sanctions often advocated by Western nations.

After more than three weeks of Myanmar’s military coup, the situation became more serious as the anti-coup protest attracted more participation among the masses and earned global support across the world. The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed resolution denouncing grave human rights violations by Myanmar Military and urged UNSC to imposed sanctions against Country’s military. UNSC failed to make grounds for imposition of sanctions due to disassociation by China and Russia. However, US, UK and other several Western Countries had imposed sanctions against Myanmar’s military generals.

In a move against military coup, Burmese Ambassador to the UN,  Kyaw Moe Tun, separated his way from the ruling Military Junta and warned diplomats at a meeting of the General Assembly that his country’s military had become, “an existential threat,” and called upon the world community to take action against the military for restoration of democracy and peace in the country. The ASEAN’s efforts for de-escalation will also work only if there will be growing pressure on ruling elite at all fronts.

On other hand, the military has sorted to create anarchy in the country by staging pro-military protests, aimed at turning the situation into civil anarchy to divert the International focus from its illegal action against the elected government of the country. However, the rising internal and external pressure had pushed the Military elite in a defensive position, if the similar situation continue to exist during next few weeks the military junta will have to retreat in front of growing public protest for restoration of deposed elected government.

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Pakistan-Sri Lanka ties

A Pakistan’s high-level delegation led by Prime Minister Imran Khan has concluded a two days official visit to Sri Lanka yesterday. The visit was a gamut of multifaceted engagements related to different fora of bilateral relations of the two countries. Both sides deliberated to further enhance bilateral relations in various areas, including trade, investment, science and technology, and culture. During joint press conference with his Sri Lanka counterpart Mr. Mahina Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged that his visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral relationship especially trade and economic ties through coordinated engagement. He said that Sri Lanka could benefit from CPEC through enhanced connectivity up to the Central Asian states.

Pakistan and Sri-Lanka has historic relations over the decades, which was mainly based on bilateral defense cooperation, sports, and bilateral diplomatic cooperation at international forum. Both nations remained unable to transform these ties into broad based multidimensional relations encompassing geo-strategic and geo-economic interests of both countries. Although, both countries were already engaged through bilateral consultation groups at diplomatic front, but these low tire engagements cannot make any breakthrough in the relation.

During this high-level interaction, both sides identified several arenas of mutual interest ranging from economy, trade, investment, education, defence, tourism, aviation, and other sectors. Furthermore, both sides discussed to broaden the Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and enhanced parliamentary interactions between the two countries to boost bilateral cooperation. Both Countries promised to achieve the goal of $1 billion bilateral trade in coming years. Government of Pakistan extended various incentives to Sri Lanka as a goodwill gesture including 100 scholarships in the field of medicines (MBBS and BDS) for Sri Lankan students, establishment of Asian Civilization and Culture Centre at the University of Peradeniya, Kandy and 50 million dollars’ defense credit line facility for Sri Lankan Defence Sector.

Although, this high-level visit of Pakistani leadership to friendly country Sri Lanka is little delayed, however, it is a well thought and well architected initiative in line with Pakistan’s economic diplomacy vision. Earlier, Pakistan outreached to African states under its look Africa initiative. It is high time that Pakistan must establish its strong economic bonds with South East Asian Nations in coming days.

Since from its inception, Pakistan always faced security challenges due to Kashmir problem and after the Afghan war since 1979, it further went down in the mess of international conspiracies, due to which Pakistan could not rise in the economic field. Pakistan foreign relations mostly have been seen in context of geo-strategic prospects. First time, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) envisioned the huge prospects of Pakistan’s economic revival in the region and beyond. Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly invited the Sri Lanka to avail this huge opportunity in exploring its trade relations with Central Asian States. The Pakistani business community highly appreciated the visit of the Prime Minister to Sri Lanka and urged to make this opportunity a more productive engagement with Sri Lankan Government and businesses.

Pakistan government should work on similar lines to establish deep economic ties with other countries in the neighborhood. Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan and Iran is shrinking in its volume during recent years. Pakistan has extended extra financial benefit to Afghanistan through Afghan transit trade, however, Pakistan must work to achieve similar concessions from Afghanistan for its trade with CARs. On other hand, Pakistan had been hesitating to forge strong economic relations with Iran in the backdrop of US-Iran rivalry. Pakistan must promote its trade relations with Iran under economic diplomacy initiative.

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Nepal’s Oli and PTI

Yesterday, a Spokesman for Nepali Prime Minister said that the Nepal’s embattled prime minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, will not resign from office, but let parliament decide his fate. The statement came a day after the Supreme Court rejected his decision to dissolve the legislature and call for early elections. After the Court’s verdict of declaring parliament’s dissolution by him as unconstitutional, ordered it to be called into session before March 8. After court’s decision, Prime Minister Oli sorted meeting with his allies in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to handle the situation.

The Nepali Prime Minister K. P Oli had dissolved the country’s parliament in December 2020, after several months long tussle with his party co-founder and former Maoist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Earlier, in 2017, United Marxist Leninist (UML) Party led by Pushpa and the Maoist Party  led by K.P Oli agreed to merged the parties under one platform of Nepal Communist Party (NCP). In this way, Pushpa Kamal Dahal helped the Prime Minister Oli to get into power. Later, Communist Party of Nepal got differences between two sections which led to dissolution of the parliament on the hand of Nepali Prime Minister, an act equal to Political suicide.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oli sorted to consolidate his grip on the Country’s watch dogs institutions such as Intelligence,  fraud investigation, and money laundering investigation agencies by bring them under his direct control, besides tightening the ropes of his colleagues with in the NCP. Others NCP leaders including Pushpa Dahal objected this increasing authoritarianism in the country, which increased the political crisis.

If we mirror the political landscape of Pakistan, one can watch a clear resemblance in the two cases. PTI led government has created a huge gap with other political forces by its intolerant rhetoric in the parliament. The situation reached at such as a level, that no working relationship seems to be happen in remaining two and half year. There are clear differences within the ranks, which led to the hasty cry for open ballot poll in Senate election, aimed at roping own member’s feet from drifting way into opposite camp through secret ballot. Prime Minister’s recent meeting with KP Parliamentarian clearly exposed the real situation. However, the lesson learnt is that Politics is not name of investing in yourselves but keep your flanks abreast with you.

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Pakistan-Sri Lanka ties

A Pakistan’s high-level delegation led by Prime Minister Imran Khan has concluded a two days official visit to Sri Lanka yesterday. The visit was a gamut of multifaceted engagements related to different fora of bilateral relations of the two countries. Both sides deliberated to further enhance bilateral relations in various areas, including trade, investment, science and technology, and culture. During joint press conference with his Sri Lanka counterpart Mr. Mahina Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged that his visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral relationship especially trade and economic ties through coordinated engagement. He said that Sri Lanka could benefit from CPEC through enhanced connectivity up to the Central Asian states.

Pakistan and Sri-Lanka has historic relations over the decades, which was mainly based on bilateral defense cooperation, sports, and bilateral diplomatic cooperation at international forum. Both nations remained unable to transform these ties into broad based multidimensional relations encompassing geo-strategic and geo-economic interests of both countries. Although, both countries were already engaged through bilateral consultation groups at diplomatic front, but these low tire engagements cannot make any breakthrough in the relation.

During this high-level interaction, both sides identified several arenas of mutual interest ranging from economy, trade, investment, education, defence, tourism, aviation, and other sectors. Furthermore, both sides discussed to broaden the Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and enhanced parliamentary interactions between the two countries to boost bilateral cooperation. Both Countries promised to achieve the goal of $1 billion bilateral trade in coming years. Government of Pakistan extended various incentives to Sri Lanka as a goodwill gesture including 100 scholarships in the field of medicines (MBBS and BDS) for Sri Lankan students, establishment of Asian Civilization and Culture Centre at the University of Peradeniya, Kandy and 50 million dollars’ defense credit line facility for Sri Lankan Defence Sector.

Although, this high-level visit of Pakistani leadership to friendly country Sri Lanka is little delayed, however, it is a well thought and well architected initiative in line with Pakistan’s economic diplomacy vision. Earlier, Pakistan outreached to African states under its look Africa initiative. It is high time that Pakistan must establish its strong economic bonds with South East Asian Nations in coming days.

Since from its inception, Pakistan always faced security challenges due to Kashmir problem and after the Afghan war since 1979, it further went down in the mess of international conspiracies, due to which Pakistan could not rise in the economic field. Pakistan foreign relations mostly have been seen in context of geo-strategic prospects. First time, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) envisioned the huge prospects of Pakistan’s economic revival in the region and beyond. Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly invited the Sri Lanka to avail this huge opportunity in exploring its trade relations with Central Asian States. The Pakistani business community highly appreciated the visit of the Prime Minister to Sri Lanka and urged to make this opportunity a more productive engagement with Sri Lankan Government and businesses.

Pakistan government should work on similar lines to establish deep economic ties with other countries in the neighborhood. Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan and Iran is shrinking in its volume during recent years. Pakistan has extended extra financial benefit to Afghanistan through Afghan transit trade, however, Pakistan must work to achieve similar concessions from Afghanistan for its trade with CARs. On other hand, Pakistan had been hesitating to forge strong economic relations with Iran in the backdrop of US-Iran rivalry. Pakistan must promote its trade relations with Iran under economic diplomacy initiative.

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Nepal’s Oli and PTI

Yesterday, a Spokesman for Nepali Prime Minister said that the Nepal’s embattled prime minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, will not resign from office, but let parliament decide his fate. The statement came a day after the Supreme Court rejected his decision to dissolve the legislature and call for early elections. After the Court’s verdict of declaring parliament’s dissolution by him as unconstitutional, ordered it to be called into session before March 8. After court’s decision, Prime Minister Oli sorted meeting with his allies in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to handle the situation.

The Nepali Prime Minister K. P Oli had dissolved the country’s parliament in December 2020, after several months long tussle with his party co-founder and former Maoist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Earlier, in 2017, United Marxist Leninist (UML) Party led by Pushpa and the Maoist Party  led by K.P Oli agreed to merged the parties under one platform of Nepal Communist Party (NCP). In this way, Pushpa Kamal Dahal helped the Prime Minister Oli to get into power. Later, Communist Party of Nepal got differences between two sections which led to dissolution of the parliament on the hand of Nepali Prime Minister, an act equal to Political suicide.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oli sorted to consolidate his grip on the Country’s watch dogs institutions such as Intelligence,  fraud investigation, and money laundering investigation agencies by bring them under his direct control, besides tightening the ropes of his colleagues with in the NCP. Others NCP leaders including Pushpa Dahal objected this increasing authoritarianism in the country, which increased the political crisis.

If we mirror the political landscape of Pakistan, one can watch a clear resemblance in the two cases. PTI led government has created a huge gap with other political forces by its intolerant rhetoric in the parliament. The situation reached at such as a level, that no working relationship seems to be happen in remaining two and half year. There are clear differences within the ranks, which led to the hasty cry for open ballot poll in Senate election, aimed at roping own member’s feet from drifting way into opposite camp through secret ballot. Prime Minister’s recent meeting with KP Parliamentarian clearly exposed the real situation. However, the lesson learnt is that Politics is not name of investing in yourselves but keep your flanks abreast with you.

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Politics and government servants

Governor Sindh Imran Ismail ruled out any possibility of imposition of governor rule in the province during a media interaction yesterday. However, he said that the federal government wants to put things in order. He further added that he wrote a letter to Prime Minister regarding lawlessness in the province and recommended to change Provincial Inspector General of Police (IGP). According to him, IGP Sindh Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar has failed to perform his duties and is a biased officer. He accused IG Sindh and Provincial Police for working as a party. He said that Police was taking illegal actions against members and workers of opposition parties and remined Police of being servants of state not of any political party.

The civil government servants from local administration, Police and other services provider departments face the acts of intimidation and threats of punitive measures in shape of posting, suspension and termination from the job on the hands of Politicians, their relatives, feudal lords, higher officials and mafias every single day. It is bitter fact, that the functioning of these civil government institutions run on political influence and if employees of government department do not fulfill the demands of Political elite they actually face problems from their department, as pressure comes from the Ministry, headed by a politician.

There is very thin and delicate line which separate the rational service of a government servant from their personal obedience toward any Political Conjurer or feudal lord. Before, assuming the power in the Centre and provinces, PTI was making tall claims to strengthen the Country’s institutions and eradicating the culture of Political interference, model policing and so on. However, after taking the office, PTI government had done totally opposite to its claims and country’s institutions become weaken than ever before.

This situation badly hampered the performance of government’s institutions, no political government will give in the culture of political interference into the institutions. However, the government employees must build a culture of true professionalism themselves by opting not to subdue in front of all sort of Political Pressure, while performing their duties. The People of the country have witnessed the political drama during the by-election in recent days. No Screen smoke can hide the truth from the public eye. The public will give its verdict in coming general election and all Political parties must wait for that.

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Nation and war against terrorism

DG ISPR, Major General Babar Iftikhar said that nation’s support to the country’s armed forces was imperative to win the war against terrorism. According to the ISPR DG, ongoing Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad has completed its four years yesterday, on February 22, 2021. The aim of the operation was to dismantle and exterminate terrorist sleeper cells across the country with a broader domain and implications. Major General Babar said the timing of the Operation was significant as terrorists had faced a crushing defeat in the tribal areas and were resorted to per meate into all walks of life from religion to business to create chaos and anarchy in the country through hostile activities. The topmost Spokesman of Pakistan’s armed Forces briefly highlighted the achievements gained by the LEAs through Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad across the country over last four years. He also provided an account of huge sacrifices paid by our valiant officers and soldiers during these IBOs, surely nation will remember them forever.

The operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was initiated on 22 February 2017, based on the doctrine to consolidate the Pakistan’s victory against terrorism achieved by the Country’s Security Forces through Operation Zarb-e-Azb. At time, the remnants of the terrorists had sorted to merged themselves in the public with the help of their sympathizers. Apparently, Pakistan’s Security Forces overcome the peril of terrorism but in fact the nature of threat has been changed from visible to invisible. Therefore, after undertaking the command, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, envisaged his vision of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, while changing the active physical military operation in FATA and other border areas to an Intelligence Based Operation (IBO), by expanding its magnitude across the Country. Actually, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad is very critical operation aimed at detection of terrorist sleeper cells out of the public, uncovering the whole terrorist’s network, apprehension followed by their disposal through the court of law.

In fact, after initiation of Afghan Jihad, a large segment of our society was transformed from a peaceful tolerant community into a rigid and nontolerant groups divided on sectarian and ethnic grounds having different ideologies. Common men were confused and helpless about the situation. After tragic incident of Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, the political leadership of Country agreed upon at one-point agenda to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the soil of the Country. The whole Pakistani nation came up to support the defense forces of the country to defeat the terrorism.

The top civilian and military leadership sit together and identified the avenues of our social life abetted breeding of terrorism in the society ranging from funding of terrorism, radicalization of society particularly young generation, loopholes in country’s educational, banking, judicial and law enforcement systems, immigration, border control and other administrative issues at national and local level, which were contributing in damaging the social and religious fabric of our society. A 20 points agenda namely National Action Plan (NAP) was formulated, which has been implement by the Central and provincial governments during past years.

Besides, IBOs across the country, operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was also aimed at strengthening security measures at Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran border, which provided easy routes to terrorists due to difficult terrains and lack of resources. Pakistan Army had constructed fence, military post, and forts on Pak-Afghan border, up to 84% work has been completed so far, whereas construction work on Pak-Iran border is under progress. Pakistan Army is the first military in the world, who successfully defeated the menace of terrorism and all this happened by active support of the people of Pakistan to their military.