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Pakistan Fights Terrorism
Cricket Comes Home
Following the terror wave in the country last month that includes two bomb blasts in Punjab and Sindh province, military operation against terrorists has been underway. In a recent gun battle between militants and army in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtnukhwa province, at least 10 militants have been killed. During exchange of fire two military officials also embraced martyrdom. According to media reports militants were planning to stage attacks in Swabi, but the security forces foiled their plan. The security forces also destroyed hideouts of terrorists during the search operation and recovered hate literature and modern weapons.
Meanwhile five Taliban militants who had been sentenced to death by military courts were executed in Kohat District Jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the militants were involved in attacking law enforcement agencies and armed forces and destruction of educational institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan created special military courts by constitutional amendment after an attack on army school in Peshawar in 2014 in which gunmen killed more than 150 people – mostly children.
Moreover in the 200th Corps Commanders’ Conference, presided over by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the top military brass has called for expediting implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) through Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad jointly by stakeholders for peace and stability in the country.
Meanwhile the Chaman border crossing at the Pak-Afghan border has been closed once again for an indefinite period. The crossing points on the border had opened on March 7 and 8 following instructions from the federal government. Hundreds of Pakistanis, including transporters, traders, had been stranded in Afghanistan while Afghan refugees on their way home complained of slow clearing process. The government had decided to seal the border crossings for an indefinite period on February 16 in the wake of a suicide attack at a shrine in Sindh province.
Ruling party has been trying to convince opposition parties to approve the bill about the reinstatement of military courts, which had expired in January this year. Under the Army Act Amendment Bill, special powers of the military to try criminals will be extended for a period of two years. The government had tabled the 28th Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Army Act Amendment Bill 2017 for input from all political parties. However, the JUI-F opposed the language of the bill, terming it discriminatory while the PPP also expressed its reservation. According to the bill, those waging war against the state, military installations, military forces, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and citizens of Pakistan will be tried by military courts. Both the bills were consequently adopted by the House.
Meanwhile opposition lawmakers criticised the government’s foreign policy, claiming that the government has totally failed to improve its relations with the world, especially neighbouring countries. The opposition termed Pakistan’s foreign policy a total failure, which isolated the country at international forum. The opposition members also criticized the government for not appointing a fulltime foreign minister. Moreover a heated argument, followed by a physical scuffle between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers gained the attention of national media. During National Assembly proceedings this week, PML-N leader Mian Javed Latif called PTI Chairman Imran Khan a traitor, over his statement on foreign cricket players who came to Lahore to play final of Pakistan Super League. According to media reports both the leaders from PML- N and PTI came face to face in the corridoes of the National Assembly building where ruling party’s Javed Latif slapped PTI’s Murad Saeed, while Murad Saeed punched him in the face.
This week Pakistan celebrated return of international cricket after almost a decade. The international tours were halted in Pakistan after the attack on visiting Sri Lankan cricket team by terrorists in 2009. Final match of second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) was held in Gaddaffi Stadium in Lahore amid massive security. The decision of Pakistani government and Pakistan Cricket Board to hold final of Pakistan Super League was an effort to assure the world that it is now safe for international cricket teams to play in Pakistan. Thousands of cricket enthusiasts watched the final of a Twenty20 league in Gaddaffi Stadium. The final was played in the presence of heavy security with thousands of police and paratroops patrolled the area around the Gaddafi Stadium and army helicopters hovered above.
The final match of PSL was played between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. Both the teams had four foreigner players included in their squad. Peshawar defeated Quetta by 58 runs to win the second edition of the Pakistan Super League. The tournament itself was held in United Arab Emirates instead of Pakistan because of security reasons but the final was held in Lahore to send the message across the world that Pakistan was now ready to host international teams once again. Meanwhile Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated the nation over the successful event and said that nation has risen stronger, more united and more prosperous against all the odds on the night of Pakistan Super League (PSL) final.
In a statement issued by the PM’s Office, he said over the past four years, we have become stronger, safer and more stable, creating an environment conducive to national aspirations. He also termed this event as the first step in putting Pakistan back on the map within the sporting arena. Holding the final in Pakistan had become controversial and drawn criticism from some quarters, who believed that arranging such a big event in Lahore can be a huge security risk after a series of militant attacks in February that left 130 people dead.
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