ANUSHA RAMZI - During the tenures of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Punjab government has been a symbol of good governance, which is acknowledged by all and sundry. It would not be wrong to say that PML-N got the mandate in 2013 elections because of his sterling performance in the largest province of the country. He is living up to those traditions as the Punjab government, under his guidance, has taken the lead in implementation of National Action Plan to eliminate terrorism.

Addressing a ceremony with regard to the passing-out of the first batch of Counterterrorism Force, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said: “It is not only an important day for the Punjab, but also it is of great importance in the history of the country. Political and administrative team have worked in unison for giving a practical shape to the vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which was presented in July 2013”.

Within a month after assuming his office, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had invited all the stakeholders, including leaders of political parties, heads of security agencies and members of civil society, to reach a consensus on counterterrorism strategy. It was imperative as radicalism and extremism posed a threat to Pakistani society and state, and terrorists had been attacking whenever and wherever they wanted. Unfortunately, comprehensive and vibrant counterterrorism, anti-extremism and counter-radicalism strategies were lacking, and there were grey areas and ambiguities in the policies.

It was because of these factors as well as lack of will on the part of previous governments that they had failed to evolve consensus on formulating such a policy. However, all segments of the society support the PM’s sincere efforts to fight the menace of terrorism and bring peace in the country.

The present government is fighting terrorists and also vows to address the problems faced by the people in socio-economic and development fronts. Counterterrorism campaigns now span the spectrum of latest trends in warfare technology, from deploying highly equipped special operations’ forces to preparing comprehensive plan of action to fight terrorism.

Shahbaz Sharif, being the chief minister of the largest province, with population of more than the three provinces put together, has great responsibility as solving the problems faced by the jobless people means that half of the country’s population has been well-served. In fact, the other provinces should emulate the Punjab government.

Fighting terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations is an arduous task, so innovative and extraordinary measures have to be taken to fight this scourge.

In his speech, the chief minister said terrorism has caused huge loss to the country and the national economy. He said the worst kind of terror incident happened in the history of the world on December 16, 2014, at the school of Peshawar, where terrorists killed the innocent children. He said the entire nation, from Peshawar to Karachi, has united against terrorism due to this horrible incident and an exemplary demonstration of unity and consensus is unprecedented in the history. He said this menace will be eliminated through strong commitment of the nation and Pakistan will be made an Islamic welfare state in the real sense as envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal.

Shahbaz Sharif said the brave army of Pakistan has achieved remarkable successes in operation “Zarb-e-Azb” and a new history is being written in the war against terrorism. He expressed the hope that Pakistan will win the war against terrorism and there will be a durable peace in the country. He reiterated the government will not rest without giving a crushing defeat to the terrorists. He said there are many examples in the world when a nation and political and military leadership united against the challenge of terrorism and they won the war. He said the entire nation, including political and military leadership, united against terrorism, will achieve success against the enemies of peace.

Of course, terrorists continue to improve their techniques and strategies in addition to using the tactics of their orthodox predecessors like placing bombs at public places, assassinating officials, kidnapping individuals to demand political concessions or ransom.

Internet and social media can play a vital role in reducing terrorism, checking growing increase in radicalism and controlling extremism in the society. But, at the same time, militant organisations also use them for radicalisation, recruitment and raising funds. Al-Qaeda and ISIS have used these facilities in Europe to mobilise the people for their war in Iraq and Syria, and thousands of jihadis from Europe have reached Middle East.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has rightly said that the war on terror is the war of survival of our coming generations. He said this is the war of Pakistan and now the country is facing a decisive moment. He expressed his determination and strong commitment to eliminate those killing our innocent children, people and Pak Army soldiers. He was confident that the country and the people will achieve success against enemies of peace, and the Pakistani nation will win this war.

Shahbaz Sharif also thanked the Turkish government for sending their best experts from Turkish National Police to train our police officers regarding terrorism. He also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on his arrival at Elite Police Training School.