PESHAWAR, June 24: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Monday declared the US drone attacks in Fata the root cause of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and said terrorism could not be defeated until these strikes were stopped.
He also demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pull the country out of the US-led war on terrorism and formulate a national policy on terrorism without delay.
Giving his party’s policy statement on terrorism during a news conference here at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the PTI chairman said the nation could not eliminate terrorism unless the government had a counter-terrorism policy.
He said: “I ask Premier Nawaz Sharif to make a policy (on terrorism) immediately. Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani should be invited to give briefing to the political leadership on security issues.”
This was Imran’s first visit to Peshawar after his recovery from back and head injuries he had suffered during a party election rally in Lahore last month.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PTI leader Shaukat Tareen and ministers were also present in the news conference.
Mr Imran expressed worry over the recent increase in terrorist activities and said the country faced multiple challenges, including terrorism and sectarian violence, and therefore, the entire nation should be on the same page to cope with the situation.“The only solution (to terrorism) is that Pakistan should pull itself out of the US-led war on terrorism and address deteriorating situation in Fata. The drone attacks were the root cause of militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata,” he said.
The PTI chairman directed the provincial chief minister, who belongs to his party, to move from his personal residence in Hayatabad town to the Chief Minister’s annexe in the provincial capital’s red zone for security reasons.
Earlier, PTI had announced that its chief minister won’t use official residence as an austerity measure of the provincial government.
When asked if his government would block supply of goods transported to Nato forces in Afghanistan through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the US drone strikes, Mr Imran said like him, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also against drone attacks but PTI wanted to give time to the new federal government to effectively deal with the issue.
He said unlike the last government, the Nawaz Sharif-led government had summoned the US envoy to the Foreign Office to lodge protest against the recent drone strike in North Waziristan, which killed Taliban leader Waliur Rehman.
The PTI chairman said the last government had come through the US-backed National Reconciliation Ordinance and was telling lies to the nation on the US drone strikes and therefore, PTI had launched protest movement against Nato supply.
He said Pakistan was facing multiple crises and the whole nation should get united to grapple with them.
“I am not pro-Taliban, but if the US can negotiate with the Taliban directly, then Pakistan should also go for negotiations with them (local Taliban),” he said, adding that terrorism had badly affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.
He said business activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had suffered due to terrorist activities and the people were shifting investment to other areas.
“Only the business of kidnapping for ransom is on the rise in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.
Announcing guidelines for his own government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regarding eradication of corruption, Mr Imran said an independent accountability cell would be established in the province. He said the proposed cell would function independently and would be empowered to investigate corruption cases at all levels.
The PTI chief said the accountability cell would have extensive powers and would even arrest ministers and senior bureaucrats guilty of corruption.
He said the provincial government would ensure freedom of information and details of all agreements and contracts would be uploaded on the official government website.
Mr Imran said on the pattern of western countries, conflict of interest law would be enacted in the province and that law would stop ministers and officials from awarding contracts to own companies.
He said all MPAs, cabinet members and government officers would declare their assets and action would be taken if anyone was found making wrong declarations.
The PTI chairman said there would be no political interference in official matters, including postings, transfers and appointments in the province and that the locals would feel a real change in the government affairs in the days ahead.
Mr Imran said the provincial government would construct playgrounds with facilities for cricket, hokey, squash and volleyball in all tehsils.
The cricketer-turned-politician expressed dismay over poor performance of cricket team in the Champions’ Trophy and said he would begin revival of national cricket from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.