Pakistan to launch new military operation against Islamist militants -statement


Islamabad (Reuters) – Pakistan plans to launch a new nationwide operation to root out Islamist militants, the national security committee said on Friday, in a potentially costly move for a country already facing full-blown economic and political crises.

Pakistan is in danger of defaulting on its debt, with an International Monetary Fund bailout programme stalled since November, while a bruising political battle is raging between the government and former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The last time it launched an all-out operation against Islamist militants was in 2014, and it cost the country billions of dollars and resulted over a million people being displaced and hundreds being killed.

“The meeting agreed to launch an all-out comprehensive operation with the entire nation and the government, which will rid the country of the menace of terrorism with renewed vigor and determination,” the security committee said in a statement.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist militants in the last few months, particularly since negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group broke down last year.

This year, the group and its factions have unleashed a wave of attacks including a suicide bombing at a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed over 100 people, mostly policemen.

The security committee said it held a meeting on Friday chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by the country’s military leadership, and formed a committee to make recommendations regarding the details of the anti-militant operations within two weeks.

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