Continuing with talks would be injustice to terror victims: Nisar

Published February 20, 2014
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad on February 20, 2014. – AFP Photo
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad on February 20, 2014. – AFP Photo
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad on February 20, 2014. – AFP Photo
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad on February 20, 2014. – AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Thursday said that carrying on with peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban amid terrorist attacks throughout the country would be injustice to the victims of such attacks, DawnNews reported.

Speaking at a press conference, he said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military leadership do not intend to carry on with dialogue amid terrorist attacks.

The minister was accompanied by State Minister for Interior Balighur Rehman.

He said Pakistani security forces would not hesitate to take action in self defence, if they came under attack.

“We cannot take away the right of self defence from our security forces,” he added.

“He (PM Sharif) wanted to eradicate terrorism through dialogue with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Sincere efforts were put in that regard by forming a negotiating committee,” said the minister.

“However, citing recent terrorist attacks, the government has decided to counter force with force upon consultation with the country’s military leadership,” he announced.

The statement came after at least 35 militants were killed earlier today as fighter jets targeted suspected insurgent hideouts in three different tehsils of the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Chaudhry Nisar reiterated that peace talks and terrorist attacks cannot go side by side.

Premier Sharif has favored peace talks over military action to end the bloodshed in the country. Those efforts made limited progress this month when a government-appointed committee met with representatives nominated by the militants.

But negotiations were troubled from the start as militant attacks continued. A deadly bombing claimed by the Pakistani Taliban last week killed 12 police officers in the port city of Karachi. A faction of the Taliban also claimed they killed 23 soldiers on Sunday in reprisal for the killing of some of their members.

After that, government negotiators told the prime minister they couldn't continue the talks unless the militants renounced violence.

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said Wednesday they would agree to a ceasefire only if government negotiators could assure them there would be no more killings of their members.

During the press conference today, Chaudhry Nisar said that the deadlock in peace talks persists, however, the government’s peace initiative will continue with the militant groups which believe in the dialogue process.

“I still think that there are clear indications that the dialogue process will be on track again. I am very hopeful,” he added.

The minister said that the government did not carry out any military action against the extremists since inception of the peace process in September. “What else could the government have done to show its sincerity of observing a ceasefire,” he questioned.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, in an obvious reference to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said those who are demanding a military offensive should have conducted the operation during their five years in power.

The minister said due to government's steps, coordination had improved among the country’s intelligence agencies.

“Thousands of terrorists, target killers and criminals were arrested in Karachi due to proactive and focused efforts of intelligence agencies,” he said.

The information minister said that a Joint Intelligence Directorate will be set up to coordinate the work of 26 intelligence agencies working in the country.

A rapid response force at the federal level would be replicated in the provinces, he said adding a helicopter unit would be on call in case of any incident in the provinces and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) would be made vibrant.

He said the Internal Security Policy was ready and would be presented before the federal cabinet in its next meeting for approval.

More modern gadgets from China had arrived to equip the security forces, while in the coming months 50 bomb disposal vehicles, eight of which equipped with robots, would be handed over to the police.

He assured that Islamabad was now a safe city and in the last few months, only a couple of incidents had occurred and the law enforcement agencies busted two major terrorist networks.

A major drive of registration of citizens living in Islamabad was carried out and now the interior ministry exactly knew every person living in the federal capital, the minister said adding about 80,000 people were registered in 24 slum areas of Islamabad.

Those Afghans who were living illegally in the capital would be sent back to the refugee camps, he said.

Chaudhry Nisar said the British government had sought legal assistance from the government in MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq murder case and after taking legal advice, any step would be taken on the issue.

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