“More than one option is being considered for going into NWA; it’s just a matter of time now,” a government official privy to the development told Dawn.
He added that the military planning would take time, but the ball had been set rolling by the PML-N government in meetings between the prime minister and the army chief over the past week or so.
Asked about the ambiguity that seemed to define the PML-N’s stance vis-à-vis the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the official claimed that the government genuinely wanted talks with militants, but the back-to-back attacks on civilians and military personnel had forced a rethink.
“The government is left with no other option but to use force.”
Dawn has learnt that Mr Sharif gave a go-ahead for the use of force at a Jan 24 meeting, which was attended by civilians as well as military officials. They included Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif, ISI DG Lt Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Ashfaq Nadeem, DGMO Maj Gen Amir Riaz, DG MI Maj Gen Sarfaraz Sattar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Information Minister Senator Pervez Rasheed, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi.
The high-profile huddle had taken place after the Bannu and Rawalpindi attacks on security personnel.