During General Raheel’s visit to Shawal Valley in North Waziristan on 18th April, he was briefed on the successful completion of the last phase of military operation in Shawal by the military commanders. General Raheel lauding the exceptional courage, determination and sacrifices of troops in achieving objectives of the operation, emphasized the need for consolidating the gains of the successful implementation of operation Zarb-e-Azb and directed undertaking large scale combing operation to seek out terrorists, their sleeper cells and facilitators in areas other than FATA and enhance the reach of Law Enforcing Agencies. He had given the commanders a go-ahead for launching the final of operation Zarb-e-Azb in Shawal during his last visit to the valley on 24th February to clear the area of the remnants of TTP, who reportedly had re-located themselves in the area after their return from Afghanistan. Operation Zarb-e-Azb has been a tremendous success and as a result terrorism is surely on the wane. Its effectiveness has also been duly acknowledged at the international level.

The fact that the final phase of operation Zarb-e-Azb in the Shawal Valley had been necessitated due to the return of the terrorists from Afghanistan, who had initially crossed over when the operation was started, makes it obvious that the ultimate success of the operation depends on cooperation from Afghanistan. The success of operation Zarb-e-Azb has also created space for action against the supporters, sympathisers and sleeping cells of terrorists throughout the country as thousands of intelligence based operations have been successfully conducted in all the four provinces which has reduced the frequency of terrorists incidents and also contributed immensely to the overall improvement in the law and order situation in the country. General Raheel Sharif deserves the credit for showing rare commitment, professionalism and leadership in carrying out the military campaign against the terrorists.

His frequent visits to the battle fronts, interaction with the field commanders, showing solidarity with the families of the martyred soldiers and above all inspiring narratives, have contributed to lifting of the moral of the armed forces and ensured success in all the military campaigns against the terrorist elements.  

Nevertheless, the overall credit for the successes achieved through Zarb-e-Azb and National Action Plan goes to the PML-N government for showing the courage and commitment to take decisive action against the terrorists, which no previous government, neither military nor civilian, could initiate for unknown reasons and allowed the terrorists to flourish and pose existentialist threat to the country. The government has also made sure that decisions and strategies required for meeting the diabolical challenges confronting the country are invariably made through a process of consensus with all the stakeholders.

In regards to fighting terrorism and security issues on the internal and external fronts it is on one page with the security establishment as is evident from the frequent huddles between the Prime Minister and COAS in regards to firming up strategies and responses to the new developments and emerging challenges. We have also witnessed a rare collaboration between the government and the military leadership for making the CPEC a success.

Both are unswervingly committed to remove all the impediments in the way of its implementation on priority basis. While the government has done well to evolve national consensus and national ownership of CPEC, the military establishment has provided invaluable support to provide security to the CPEC projects and the infrastructure being developed under the initiative.

Whether somebody is an avowed critic of the government or its supporter, it is hard to take an issue with the commitment shown by the PML-N government in taking on and tackling the formidable challenges that it inherited. Apart from dealing effectively with terrorism and religious extremism it has also taken discernible strides in other areas. Economy which was in shambles when the PML-N government was installed, has been revived through imaginative macro-economic reforms. Budget deficit which is considered to be the mother of all economic ills has been almost reduced from 8.8 %  of GDP to 5.5 % and is likely to be further pulled down to 4.3% by June 2016, which speaks volumes about the efficacy of the macro-economic reforms introduced by the government.

Expansion in tax net, bringing down the inflation to single digit, increase in credit to private and agriculture sector, gradual enhancement in development funding, increased foreign remittances and foreign exchange reserves touching the phenomenal figure of $20 billion are all credible indicators of the health of the economy. These are not mere claims of the government but their authenticity has also been corroborated by the world lending institutions and rating agencies. A number of projects in the energy sector have been initiated to tide over the energy crisis and it is hoped that by the end of 2018 it will almost be over. Not only that the graph of overall corruption in the echelons of the government has also observed a nosedive, as corroborated by three successive reports of the Transparency International.

It is surely due to these success stories that the people of Pakistan, three years down the line, retain their faith in the PML-N as is evident by the results of the by-elections to the National Assembly and the Local Bodies elections. The other political parties are no match to it in regards to popularity and being a preferable alternative.It may not have overcome all the challenges but there is no disputing the fact that it has certainly achieved considerable success in setting the tone for their eventual elimination. Now is the time to consolidate those gains and pull the country out of the quagmire that it is stuck into, once for all.

But it is regrettable to note that certain political forces are desperately trying to undo these achievements through politics of confrontation and self-aggrandisement and are always on the look out to create a situation of chaos and crisis in the country. As if the sit-ins for 126 days were not enough to harm the economy and vitiate the political atmosphere in the country, attempts are now being made to create fuss over the issue of Panama Leaks, notwithstanding the fact that Leaks do not make any allegations of wrong doing either by the Prime Minister or his sons who own off-shore companies and the willingness of the government to have the issue probed through an agreed arrangement. In fact the opposition parties do not want a thorough probe as they are also have myriad of vulnerabilities and skeletons in their cupboards. General Raheel Sharif deserves the credit for showing rare commitment, professionalism and leadership in carrying out the military campaign against the terrorists.