Pakistan to launch anti-terrorism campaign in March

The announcement came after the targeted killing of former parliamentarian Syed Ali Raza Abidi, who was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his house in Karachi.
The announcement came after the targeted killing of former parliamentarian Syed Ali Raza Abidi, who was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his house in Karachi.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD • The Pakistani government will launch a comprehensive operation across the country in March to crack down on terrorism, said Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi.

Called the National Action Plan, the operation will complement the country's ongoing anti-terrorism offensive, the minister added.

The announcement on Wednesday came after the targeted killing of former parliamentarian Syed Ali Raza Abidi, who was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his house in Karachi.

The killing was the fourth terrorist attack in the city in the past month and has raised serious concerns about the country's efforts in battling terrorism.

Mr Afridi said the political and military leadership as well as key security agencies will work together to improve national security.

The government will also revive the National Counter Terrorism Authority, which was established to gather intelligence and coordinate between all relevant stakeholders in the fight against terrorism.

"We shall try hard to eliminate this plague from the country through joint efforts of all stakeholders, including provinces and the central government. Those who want to destabilise the country will be identified soon," he said.

 
 
 

Meanwhile, a Pakistani separatist wanted over an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi last month has been killed in a suicide blast in Afghanistan.

Aslam Baloch, believed to be one of the leaders of the Balochistan Liberation Army - one of a myriad of insurgent groups that are fighting in Pakistan's restive south-western Balochistan province - was killed on Tuesday, along with four others in a blast in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, the group said.

Kandahar police chief Tadin Khan confirmed that a suicide bombing had taken place in the provincial capital, killing two civilians.

Another Afghan official said Baloch and a second member of the Balochistan Liberation Army were the targets of the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Four people were killed when militants attacked China's consulate in Karachi last month. The Balochistan Liberation Army claimed that assault, labelling Beijing an "oppressor" and saying it was "making it clear that China's military expansionism on Baloch soil will not be tolerated".

China, one of Pakistan's closest allies, has poured billions of dollars into the South Asian country in recent years as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project that seeks to connect its western province of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline 'Pakistan to launch anti-terrorism campaign in March'. Print Edition | Subscribe