ISLAMABAD - The government has given a free hand to the armed forces of Pakistan to devise a strategy to deal with the militants operating against the state machinery and innocent people across the country.

The sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that the final go-ahead for surgical strikes in the restive tribal areas against miscreants was given to the armed forces at the meeting held between the prime minister and the chief of the army staff in the backdrop of the beheading of some 23 FC men by Mohmand Agency TTP a few days back.

The sources aware of the details of the prime minister’s meeting with the COAS said Premier Sharif was very much angry over the killing of 23 FC men in the captivity of Taliban and he had given a clear-cut direction to the army chief to go for hot pursuit against the militants setting aside the option of dialogue.

The sources further said the army chief who was having with him a detailed plan of surgical strikes in the tribal areas at the time of the meeting briefed the premier on the whole plan and secured his approval for the same.

Sources in the government revealed that despite initiation of a targeted operation against some of the militants averse to dialogue, back-channel contracts of the government with some militant groups within the conglomeration of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were underway and they were ready to broker peace through negotiations and lay down their arms. And, in return, the government would grant them general amnesty.

The sources further revealed Federal Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan had cultivated contacts with some of the militant groups during the first phase of dialogue process initiated under his supervision and now, on the direction of the prime minister, he had resumed the task.

In the meantime, surgical strikes against militants in the troubled areas would continue while, through enhanced cooperation and coordination among the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, a major hunt for Taliban would be launched in the settled areas as well from where their militants used to launch disruptive activities.

They further said that, in this connection, another major operation against Taliban would be launched in all the major cities of the country, mainly Karachi considered to be a major abode for the militants.

To a question, the sources in the government ruled out Swat-like major operation in the tribal areas, including North Waziristan, right now for various reasons, but surgical operations and air strikes on the hideouts of militants would continue to break their network.

The military establishment would continue with the same policy till the end of this year. However, there may be some changes following the withdrawal of the Nato troops from Afghanistan by the end of December or beginning of 2015, the sources further said.

As part of the operation, the security agencies were directed to beef up security in the settled areas because, after facing losses in the troubled areas, the militants would definitely try to disrupt public peace in the major cities and hit sensitive civil and military installations.

Similarly, the security of key political figures was also beefed up as the militants could target some important personalities across the country.