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Army chief seeks steps to hold PSL final as per schedule

Army chief seeks steps to hold PSL final as per schedule

LAHORE: Both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday expressed resolve to let not terrorists jeopardise the national agenda through Lahore blast, with the former pledging a ruthless operation to curb the menace and the latter seeking steps to hold the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore as scheduled.

Both held parallel meetings here in the wake of the blast on The Mall on Monday that claimed 13 lives.

“The only solution to end the continuing acts of terror seems to be an indiscriminate, immediate and ruthless operation against terrorists,” Prime Minister Nawaz said while chairing a meeting that reviewed law and order situation, particularly in Punjab.

He was briefed about the preliminary investigation into the suicide hit in which two senior police officers, traffic DIG retired Captain Ahmed Mubeen and operations SSP Zahid Gondal were also killed.

Federal ministers of interior and defence Chaudhry Nisar and Khwaja Asif, respectively, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, senior Punjab cabinet members and civil administration and police high-ups attended the meeting.

Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Additional Inspector General Rai Tahir informed the meeting that the CCTV footage had helped in speeding up the probe into the suicide attack.

The meeting decided to restart combing operation against terrorists and their facilitators across the province, it was learnt.

Suburbs of Lahore and other major towns of the province would also be thoroughly searched to unearth terrorists’ ‘sleeping cells’, one of the meeting participants told Dawn.

The premier stressed checking terrorist attacks at all costs, pledging not to neglect the national duty in this respect and taking the war on terror to its logical end.

“No one should think that we will stumble in this struggle because of such terror attacks,” he said.

He hoped the nation would soon see elimination of the menace of terrorism and extremist ideology.

Meanwhile, Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also chaired a meeting of senior army officials, including heads of intelligence agencies, at the Corps Headquarters here. Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Sadiq Ali briefed the COAS about the Lahore tragedy.

A press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted Gen Bajwa as saying that action should be taken against all local and foreign terrorists, rounding up their facilitators and handlers.

Pledging to eliminate terrorism across the country, he was quoted as saying that Lahore-like incidents would not be allowed to affect the ongoing efforts against terrorism, nor spoil the gains so far achieved through the Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

The release also stated that a number of terrorists, some Afghans among them, had been arrested since the Monday attack.

The army chief, who also visited the family of slain DIG Ahmed Mubeen, also stated that the Lahore blast was aimed at sabotaging Pakistan Super League (PSL) final to be held in Lahore and sought steps for ensuring that the cricket match was played as per schedule.

Media reports quoted him as directing the authorities to launch operation against the banned outfits working under new names across the country, especially in Punjab.

The security agencies were asked to focus on south Punjab for eliminating terrorists, their sleeping cells and facilitators there, said the reports.

Earlier, soon after his arrival here from Karachi, the prime minister, along with the chief minister, visited the residence of DIG Ahmed Mubeen to condole his death.

He offered fateha for the departed soul and paid homage to his services, saying the nation would always miss a dutiful and valiant officer.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2017

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