Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is likely to summon an all-parties conference (APC) to "take political parties

 Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is likely to summon an all-parties conference (APC) to “take political parties in confidence in the Operation Azm-e-Istehkam” after the opposition expressed serious concerns over the new counterterrorism drive.

The premier, who is currently in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana to represent Pakistan in global summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), will return home tonight — likely at 2am — after concluding his official foreign visit, sources told Geo News.

PM Shehbaz will hold consultations to decide on the date of the APC centric on the reinvigorated and re-energised national drive to root out militancy from the country following a spike in terrorist attacks, the sources said, adding that the date would be announced afterwards.

The federal cabinet last week approved the launching of the counter-terrorism operation following the National Action Plan’s Central Apex Committee’s recommendations to turn up the heat on militants targeting Pakistan.

The Prime Minister Office (PMO) had said that the new counter-terrorism push was approved with the consensus of all stakeholders including provinces, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

However, opposition parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam Fazl (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP), and others have voiced concerns over the military operation, demanding that parliament must be taken into confidence before taking any such decision.

In response to the criticism, the PMO had clarified that that “no large-scale military operation is being launched” in the country.

“The recently announced vision for enduring stability named Azm-e-Istehkam is being erroneously misunderstood and compared with earlier launched kinetic operations like Zarb-e-Azab, Rah-e-Najaat etc,” read a statement issued by the PMO on June 24.

It had said the previous kinetic operations were conducted to physically dislodge terrorists from their known locations which had become no-go areas and compromised the writ of the state. “These operations required mass displacement of the local population and systematic clearance of affected areas.”

The federal government had further stated that there are no such no-go areas in the country since the ability of terrorist entities to carry out large-scale organised operations inside Pakistan was decisively degraded by earlier kinetic operations.

The operation is being launched at a time as the country’s overall fatalities in terrorist attacks and counter-terror operations reached a six-year high with nearly 1,000 deaths, The News reported in January quoting the Centre for Research and Security Studies’s (CRSS) Annual Security Report.

Pakistan has witnessed a significant surge in attacks on security forces in recent months with the militants using advanced weaponry and equipment.

Islamabad has time again called on the interim Afghanistan government to prevent its land from being used by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant organisations for carrying out attacks against Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, in an interview with the Voice of America (VoA), said that Pakistan could target terrorist hideouts across the border in Afghanistan under the new anti-terrorism operation.

He also promised that any political parties’ concerns about the operation would be addressed, and the government would bring the matter to the assembly to answer questions and build trust among members.

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