The prime minister of Pakistan announced a 20-point plan to combat terrorism just after midnight on Thursday in an address to his country, saying that “the days of terrorists are numbered.”
The televised speech by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came after a day of meetings in which Pakistan’s political leaders reached a consensus to set up military courts for trying terrorism cases. The meetings were in response to the Dec. 16 school massacre in Peshawar by Pakistani Taliban that left 149 people, mostly children, dead.
“Pakistan has changed after the Peshawar incident,” Sharif said. “Now there is no space for extremism, terrorism, sectarianism and intolerance. We will not only eliminate terrorism, will abolish the ideology of extremism.”
The military courts would be set up for terms of two years, said Sharif. While several political groups expressed reservations at the arrangement of military tribunals, ultimately parliamentary leaders agreed on the measure. Other details about the courts were scant.
Other measures outlined by Sharif included the reinstatement of the death penalty, which was announced just days after the Peshawar attacks, the “blocking of all financial and media routes that enable terrorism,” the regularization of madrassas (religious schools), the dismantling of terrorist communication networks and the formation of a special anti-terrorism task force.
Shortly after the attacks in Peshawar, Sharif had also vowed to enable the Pakistani government to stop distinguishing between the “good” and “bad” Taliban. Pakistan has been known to fight a military offensive against Taliban groups that target the Pakistani state while offering covert support for other groups, like the Afghani Taliban, that serve its interests against countries like India. The Pakistani military has amped up its offensive against militants in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
Sharif said that “the time for half-baked decisions is over.”
“As a father I can understand how heavy these coffins were for their parents,” Sharif said, referring to the victims of the Peshawar attacks. “With their blood, our children have drawn a line between us and terrorists.”