Pakistan army launches first nationwide anti-terrorism operation

Source: The Washington Post

February 23 at 2:44 PM
When the Pakistan army announced that it was launching a nationwide military operation to “indiscriminately” eliminate the threat of terrorism from the land, the adverb had a precise and politically loaded meaning.

For the first time, after years of appeasing certain Islamist militant groups for political and religious reasons, the government has reluctantly agreed to allow the armed forces to enter Punjab province, authorized with special powers to hunt down, arrest and shoot suspected militants.

Punjab is the political stronghold of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N. It is also the home of a variety of Islamist groups, including mainstream religious parties, sectarian movements officially banned for their violent methods, and anti-India militants who have been accused of a 2008 terrorist siege in Mumbai.

None of these groups appear to have been directly involved in a five-day spate of suicide bombings that shocked the nation last week, including one at a Sufi shrine full of devotees that killed 86 people. The attacks were mostly claimed by an Afghan-based militia linked to the Islamic State, which declared it was starting a war against the Pakistani government.

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