Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was in a state of "disarray" after Indian funding for the militant outfit had stopped.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad following a meeting of the federal cabinet, Chaudhry said: "We should be satisfied to know with regards to the TTP that for the first time the process of Indian funding [to them] — which had been going on for a long time — has ended and at this time they are in disarray."
Talking about the TTP's actions inside Pakistan, the minister said Pakistan was not a "weak country" and possessed the capability to overcome such challenges.
"These internal challenges are not a problem for us. Our [belief] is that once they stop having a funding stream from abroad then it will be a big blow for them and the rest we will handle ourselves."
He also said that the announcement by the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be allowed to be used for terrorism against any country was a very "positive" one.
"We think the Taliban authorities will act on this. [....] Pakistan's top terrorists from the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army) and TTP are sitting in Afghanistan and we want them.
"We hope we will have cooperation from Afghanistan on this. Inside the country we will look at these matters ourselves," Chaudhry added.
His comments come a day after Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the Afghan Taliban had reassured the government that the TTP would not be given permission to operate in Afghanistan against Pakistan.
Rashid said the government was in "full contact" with the Taliban on the issue of some TTP members such as Maulvi Faqir Mohammad being released after the takeover of Kabul.
Last week, the Foreign Office had said that Pakistan would ask the incoming government in Afghanistan to act against the TTP.
"Pakistan has been taking up the issue of the use of Afghan soil by the TTP for terrorist activities inside Pakistan with the previous Afghan government and would continue raising the issue with the incoming government in Kabul as well to ensure that the TTP is not provided any space in Afghanistan to operate against Pakistan,” the FO spokesperson had said.
'India should stay clear of Afghan interference'
Chaudhry said the cabinet meeting had also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, particularly Pakistan's "responsible role" in the formation of an Afghan government.
"We have close contact with Turkey, China and other countries [...] so on one hand we are continuing our contact with Afghan authorities and on the other, with foreign countries," he said.
He said the cabinet had also stated that "India should stay clear of interference in Afghanistan. India has no border with Afghanistan."
Dring the former Afghan government's tenure, Chaudhry said, India had used Afghanistan's land against Pakistan and "at this time too we are seeing a continuous effort visible on Indian media that the Afghan peace process is sabotaged."
The minister also provided updates about Pakistan's facilitation of evacuations from Afghanistan, saying that up till now "thousands of people" from different nationalities had been evacuated.
"Over 3,400 people have been evacuated through airplanes, [while] around 19,000 have come through the borders so Pakistan is one of the primary stakeholders in this whole process and we are trying to create this environment so that the people stranded in Kabul can be evacuated," he said.
Incidents of violence against women
The cabinet also held a discussion on the recent spate of violent incidents against women.
"While addressing the session, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that incidents like the one at Minar-i-Pakistan are very concerning for every segment of the society," Chaudhry said.
He said a response was being seen to developments on social media so "we have decided to hold a grand debate where people from different sectors will be invited to have a discussion on social media trends so we can have some guidance on where we want to go and what regulations should be brought."
Chaudhry said a high-level committee comprising religious scholars, intellectuals and civil society representatives would be formed to enlighten the government on the matter.
Regarding the Covid-19 situation in Pakistan where a fourth wave of the disease is underway due to the spread of the Delta variant, Chaudhry noted that while "stability was seen" , the situation in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was concerning.
He said the number of occupied hospital beds had crossed 1,500 in the two provinces and the total oxygen being used was at 70 per cent capacity.
"If the situation doesn't improve then we will have to cut down industrial oxygen so we can continue oxygen supply to patients," he added.
The minister said the healthcare system in KP and Punjab was facing a great burden and there was a need to handle the situation to prevent it from worsening.