PTI opposes ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ operation, walks out from parliament


ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved a reinvigorated and re-energised national counter-terrorism campaign through the launching of “Operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ with the consensus of provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir governments, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has expressed strong opposition to such operations without taking parliament into confidence, emphasising that no apex committee was above the parliament.

Speaking to the media outside the Parliament House, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan criticised the handling of parliamentary procedures, stating, “Today we tried to speak, but our microphone was turned off, on which we walked out of the Parliament in protest.”

He asserted that any operation requires parliamentary approval and underscored that the constitution mandates the supremacy of the parliament. “Even the apex committee cannot be above the Parliament,” Gauhar reiterated.

PTI Leader Asad Qaiser echoed this sentiment, insisting that any decisions regarding military operations must be presented to the Parliament for approval.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, omar Ayub, also criticized the speaker of the National Assembly for his treatment of the opposition, emphasizing that PTI has 180 seats as per Form 45.

The Apex Committee of the National Action Plan chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday approved the “reinvigorated national counter-terrorism campaign through the launching of “Operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam”.

 The apex committee meeting was attended by Army Chief Gen Asim Munir, federal ministers, and the chief ministers of the four provinces.

Khawaja Asif Accuses PTI of Supporting Terrorists

Meanwhile, Defence Minister and senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif has accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of siding with terrorists against the military.

Addressing the National Assembly during a session chaired by Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Sunday, Asif’s comments came while discussing the budget.

His remarks triggered protests from the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), who chanted slogans against operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the killing of Pashtuns.

“PTI is standing with terrorists against the army,” Asif asserted.

He added, “The voice of minorities in Pakistan is being silenced. There are killings in Swat, Sargodha, and Faisalabad. Bloodshed in the name of religion cannot be allowed.”

Asif explained that the decision for Operation Azm-e-Istehkam was made in an Apex Committee meeting, which included PTI members and the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

The Apex Committee of the National Action Plan, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, approved “Operation Azm-e-Istehkam” on Saturday to eliminate terrorism and extremism across the country.

“We will discuss Operation Azm-e-Istehkam in this house. If PTI has objections, they can raise them then. Today, they are demonstrating in support of terrorists and against the army,” Asif stated.

SIC Members Protest During Defence Minister’s Speech

During Khawaja Asif’s speech, members of the Sunni Ittehad Council raised a loud commotion and shouted slogans demanding to halt the FATA operation.

The budget session, later presided over by Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Ghulam Mustafa Shah, saw further unrest when Khawaj Asif stood up to speak. SIC members protested vocally in the House, demanding an end to the FATA operation. Opposition members also surrounded the speaker’s dais, joined by members of the JUI-F.

Khawaja Asif responded, stating, “The opposition’s protest will not blackmail me. I will finish my speech. I will speak, and no one can stop me. They are insulting us. The issue of yesterday’s abuse has not been resolved yet, and now new abuses are being hurled.”

The federal minister expressed concern over the increasing incidents against minorities, calling them a source of national shame. He urged for consensus in the House on the issue, noting that minorities are being killed daily in the name of religion. “I want to seriously discuss this issue, but these people are not allowing me to speak,” he added.

Asif accused the SIC members of protecting their political interests. “This is not your father’s house. Minorities are not safe in Pakistan, and it is a disgrace. The whole nation should be ashamed of this. They (SIC members) have no shame or modesty.”

He called for a resolution to protect minorities, reminding the assembly that the constitution protects them. He cited incidents in Swat and Faisalabad. “Our religion does not allow bloodshed in the name of religion,” he said.

Referring to blasphemy accusations, Asif stated, “There is no proof that the people who have been killed committed blasphemy.”

He also mentioned the Apex Committee, formed after the Peshawar Army School incident, and indicated that this issue would be discussed in the House. “When this issue comes to the House, these people can also speak on it. They are abusive and want to engage in violent politics. The Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was present at yesterday’s meeting where these measures were discussed. Today, tomorrow, and in the future, we will stand firm,” Asif concluded.

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