PM Shehbaz speaks ahead of apex committee huddle on terrorism

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is currently addressing the Apex Committee meeting in Peshawar that has convened after a deadly terrorist attack in the city claimed the lives of 101 people, mostly policemen.

“Over 80 people who were praying at the mosque were subjected to martyrdom barbarically,” he said. “We are here to express sympathies with their families and this is the purpose of the meeting.

“This [act of] terrorism managed to breach the security check post and reach the mosque. We should not feel hesitant in admitting the facts.”

He said it was being asked how terrorism — which had been eradicated a few years ago — let this happen. However, he hit back at the “conspiracy theories” that spread in the wake of the attack.

“In the wake of this incident, undue criticism was seen on social media. This is certainly condemnable. The occurrence of the incident due to security lapses will be probed. But saying this was a drone attack and similar related accusations were uncalled for in this tragic time.”

He said he was certain that the entire Pakistani nation was thinking about how the menace would be tackled in future. “What measures will be taken to stop this terror wave? It is the need of the hour that provinces and the Centre along with the leaderships of political parties take ownership and shun their differences, be they political or related to any religious reasons.

“We should unite and tackle this.”

He said this was the “moment which makes or breaks a nation”. He vowed the country would “collectively” overcome this challenge. “All resources will be mobilised. This meeting reaffirms our aim to sit together until this menace is eradicated.”

Earlier, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the prime minister would chair an important meeting of the Apex Committee in Peshawar today.

Television footage showed the Prime Minister and other stakeholders taking their seats at the Governor House in Peshawar.

The committee, which was formed in 2015 for each province following the Army Public School attack to oversee the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism, will meet at the Governor House and comprise all stakeholders, including law enforcement and intelligence officials.

In a tweet, the minister said that the meeting will discuss anti-terrorism measures.

All stakeholders, police, rangers and senior officers of sensitive institutions are participating in the meeting.

Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan reiterated his disapproval of the incumbent government, and held it responsible for the spread of terrorism.

He accused the government of “destroying the economy, democracy and the rule of law.”

“And when I look at terrorism being allowed to spread under my nose, I wonder how Shahbaz Sharif can be so shameless!” the ex-PM tweeted.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had on Thursday convened a multi-party conference (MPC) to discuss “important challenges” being faced by Pakistan.

According to an announcement by Aurangzeb, the MPC will be held in Islamabad on Feb 7, for which an invitation has also been extended to PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan.