Balance Sheet 2015 (Editorial January 2016)

JWT editorial

The year 2015 will be remembered as a watershed time in the history of our country. This was the year that witnessed a number of successes in Pakistan, especially on the fronts of economy and war against terrorism. The collective efforts by civil-military leadership bore fruit and the country made huge gains. Successes in war against terrorism were so momentous that the international community, especially the US and the United Nations, had to laud those.

The year started with the nation mourning the victims of APS Peshawar tragedy that befell the nation in the final days of 2014. In the aftermath of this horrific incident, the civil and military leadership of the grief-stricken nation carved out a 20-point National Action Plan to root out terrorism from the Pakistani soil. People of Pakistan gave unprecedented support to this ambitious plan and the whole nation became united to achieve the goals set therein. This consensus and unity of purpose proved instrumental in curbing militancy and terrorism and also in putting the country back on the road to prosperity. Moreover, the regained peace also boosted country’s economy. No one can deny that today’s Pakistan is far more peaceful and prosperous than what it was at the dawn of 2015.

On the terrorism front, Operation Zarb-e-Azb has broken the back of terrorists. Their hideouts in the tribal areas have been wiped out. All terrorists, without any discrimination were dealt with iron hand. Pak Army’s resounding success in neutralizing the terrorism threat has been acknowledged by the world to such an extent that the incumbent Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (former US Ambassador to Pakistan) Mr Richard G. Olson have had to tell the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee that “Pakistan had acted in a significant way against its internal terror threats … Pakistan has largely cleaned out North Waziristan Agency, something we have long desired.”

If clearing of tribal areas by Pak Army paved way for peace in the whole country, Rangers’ operation and targeted activities against rogue elements in Karachi have also been key to restoring peace in this economic hub of Pakistan. The metropolis, which was smouldering and bleeding when the country entered 2015, is now fast healing and is soon to become the ‘City of Lights’ that it once was.

On the economic front, Pakistan’s most conspicuous achievement in 2015 has been the pouring in of US$46 billion investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project that is being seen as a game-changer for Pakistan as well as the whole region. The CPEC will not only be helpful in fostering inter-provincial harmony in Pakistan but will also lift the country economically while simultaneously making it virtually the most important country in Asia. Recent World Bank and IMF reports about Pakistan’s economy, which say that Pakistan is back on the track of economic development, too speak volumes about the bright future of the country.

On the foreign policy front, although Pakistan’s efforts to give an impetus to Afghan peace process through Murree Talks received severe blow by the news of Mullah Omar’s death,  Afghan government is now again seeking Pakistan’s help to materialize its plans to talk with the Taliban. The Fifth “Heart of Asia — Istanbul Process” Conference in Islamabad on December 9 is a manifestation of the firm resolve that Pakistan has to help Afghanistan become a peaceful country.

Moreover, Pakistan-India rocky relations took a new turn with the participation of Indian External Affairs Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, in the abovementioned conference. Later, Prime Minister Modi also paid a ‘surprise’ visit to Pakistan. It is definitely a good omen for the future of Pakistan-India relations.

No one could deny the fact that the phenomenal success against terrorism has effected all these positive developments. And for this, Pak Army and its chief, General Raheel Sharif, deserve a special applause and appreciation. The COAS is due to retire in November this year but the nation is already raising voice for his extension. Since Operation Zarb-e-Azb is still to see its logical conclusion, it would be unwise to replace such a valiant commander of armed forces at this critical point. He deserves to be given extension just like his predecessor General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who was given extension by the then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani because, his [Gen Kayani’s] leadership was key to success in the fight against terrorism.”

In the end, as we have entered the year 2016, it is earnestly hoped that the New Year would bring more peace and tranquillity to Pakistan and the country would make further progress on all fronts.

May Allah bless Pakistan with His special blessings! Amen!

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