New Delhi, April 6: After days of confusion over action against militants in Pakistan's heartland of Punjab, the army on Thursday, April 7 launched a coordinated security operation following the recent Lahore bombing which killed over 72 people.
The army operation looked imminent soon after the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore that killed mostly minority Christians, but was delayed as the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not comfortable with solely army-led action, according to sources.
"Now all concerns of the government have been addressed in the successive meetings between the army and civilian leaders," sources said referring to high-profile security meetings chaired by Sharif, in which army chief General Raheel Sharif and other senior army official were also present.
It was agreed in the meetings that instead of just army, the operation will be jointly carried out by civil and military law enforcement agencies, including Rangers, police and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).
The army confirmed that the coordinated operation was launched in South Punjab which shares borders with rest of the three provinces, including Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa.
"Coordinated operations are underway against terrorists and hardened criminals by law enforcement agencies including Rangers, Punjab police and CTD, assisted by Pakistan army. These terrorists fled from different parts of the country as a result of successful Operation Zarb-e-Azb and took refuge in remote areas of south Punjab," the army said in a statement.
The deadlock over the operation in Punjab eased earlier this week when Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met Raheel.
Punjab with its huge population comprises half of Pakistan and is the political stronghold of the ruling PML-N. But it also is the mainstay of the military which gets its maximum recruitment from the province.