Malala attack: Pak govt bid to move resolution thwarted
Islamabad: Pakistan government was forced to drop a move to seek Parliament's support for action against militants in the wake of the Taliban attack on teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai, due to stiff opposition from PML-N of former Premier Nawaz Sharif.
The PPP-led ruling coalition dropped its plans to introduce a resolution in the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament yesterday after opposition from the PML-N.
Though the text of the resolution was not made public, sources said it called for "practical measures" against militants in reaction to the shooting of 14-year-old Malala by the Pakistani Taliban.
Once it became clear that the ruling coalition would not be able to achieve consensus on the resolution, the move was dropped and the current session of the House was prorogued.
Senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly, said the resolution was a precursor to a military operation in the Waziristan tribal region though Mualana Fazlullah, considered the mastermind of the attack on Malala, was hiding in Kunar province of Afghanistan.
Khan also accused the government of failing to implement previous parliamentary resolutions aimed at tackling militancy.
Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Ahmed Shah, who is the PPP's chief whip, rejected Khan's allegations and said there was no mention of Waziristan in the proposed resolution.
He said the PML-N could make changes to the draft or move a separate resolution on the issue.
However, Khan insisted that the government merely wanted to get the opposition's mandate to launch an operation in North Waziristan. He questioned the logic behind the demand for an operation.
"The government should first tell us whether Pakistan has gained strength or was weakened due to military operations in the past," he said.
Khan questioned whether peace was restored after military operations in South Waziristan and Swat Valley.
Malala was shot in the head by Taliban assassins, with the banned group saying she was targeted for supporting Western ideals and a secular government.
After undergoing surgery to remove a bullet lodged near her spine, the teenager was treated in a military hospital before being flown to Britain for specialised care.
Comments made by Pakistan's top leaders, including Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, immediately after the attack on Malala had triggered speculation about a military operation in North Waziristan.
However, the move has been strongly opposed by political parties and hardline groups, including the PML-N, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Defa-e-Pakistan Council, which are all perceived as being soft on the Taliban.
Sources said a section of the PPP leadership too is opposed to any military operation in the run-up to the next general election, scheduled to be held early next year, as it could affect the party's electoral fortunes.
The sources further said the army believes it would have a very short window for any operation before winter sets in.
The Dawn newspaper also reported that there was "apparent dithering" among military commanders after "initial expressions of a resolve to act in concert with an international outcry against the attack" on Malala.