January 11, 2023
ISLAMABAD – PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday slammed the coalition government’s “irresponsible statements” against the Afghan government, warning that a deterioration in ties could lead to a “never-ending” war against terrorism.
Over the past few months, terrorism has been rearing its head again in the country, especially in KP and Balochistan. Pakistan has seen a rise in terrorist attacks across the country, believed to have been planned and directed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders based in Afghanistan.
The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, executed more than 100 attacks last year, most of which happened after August when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended last year on Nov 28 by the TTP.
Addressing a seminar on terrorism on Tuesday, Imran addressed the criticism levelled at the PTI government for leading peace talks with the TTP and said his opponents should not “lie to the people”.
He said that all stakeholders had sat down and were informed about the need for talks with the TTP and the plan to resettle their members. “A military operation can be a part of the overall peace settlement but it is never successful on its own.”
Imran also criticised Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s “irresponsible” statements about Pakistan taking action against TTP hideouts in Afghanistan.
He warned that if the new Afghan government decided to stop cooperating with Pakistan, it could lead to a “never-ending” war against terrorism.
Imran also questioned why recent incidents at the Pak-Afghan border were not taken up with the Afghan government, reiterating that another war against terrorism would become a curse for the country if relations with Afghanistan deteriorated.
He said that the federal government would need to tread carefully and seek KP’s input on the overall terror situation. He said that Pakistan should not seek help from the United States as it would lead to internal discord among locals if drone attacks were carried out.
‘Wrong to expect KP police to confront terrorism threat’
During his address, Imran — whose party is in power in KP — said it was wrong to expect the provincial police to confront the rising wave of terrorism, adding that the terrorists were much more heavily equipped.
“To expect the police to face them (terrorists) with the kind of weapons they have is not possible. Rangers are present in Karachi and terrorism there is not at the level of KP. There is no comparison between them.”
He said terrorists operating in KP were “battle-hardened” with access to the latest weaponry abandoned by the US when it pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021.
Imran said it would be wrong to assume that the KP police could confront such terrorists, at least until the federal government did not pay full attention to the matter.
The PTI chief said terrorism was a very important issue for the country and could have greater consequences if not properly addressed, “especially at a time when our economic conditions can’t bear it at all”.
The PTI chief alleged that the federal government had withheld funds for the tribal districts and did not pay attention to the resettlement of 30,000-40,000 TTP members from Afghanistan.
Imran said the time immediately after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was a “golden opportunity” to solve the TTP issue since the new Afghan government was “pro-Pakistan” and could exert influence on the TTP.