KARACHI: Holding out an olive branch to members of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said if they promise not to get involved in terrorist activities and submit to the Constitution, the government will be ‘open to giving’ a pardon to them.

Pakistan was concerned about reported release of some TTP figures from prisons in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, said FM Qureshi in an interview with The Independent. The video was posted by the Associated Press of Pakistan on social media on Wednesday.

While referring to the TTP, he said: “If those guys come and start creating problems for us over here, it will affect innocent lives and we don’t want that.”

FM promises amnesty if TTP quits terrorist activities, submits to law

If the new Afghan setup could use its influence and talk to the TTP, and “if [the TTP] are willing to mend fences and not take the law into their hands and not get involved in terrorist activities and they submit and surrender to the writ of the government and the Constitution of Pakistan, we are even open to giving them a pardon, but as long as they do not come and start undertaking terrorist activities [in Pakistan]. That is our concern,” Dawn.com quoted him as saying.

The minister termed the Afghan Taliban administration’s announcement ‘positive’ that they would not allow any terrorist groups to use their soil against any country, including Pakistan. He recalled Pakistan had been repeatedly pointing out TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan to the previous government led by Ashraf Ghani, “but they wouldn’t move”.

About the present set-up, he said it was yet to be seen if the Afghan Taliban act on their assurances.

The foreign minister’s comments come days after President Arif Alvi suggested during an interview with DawnNews that the government could consider giving an amnesty to those TTP members who had not remained involved in ‘criminal activities’ and who laid down their weapons and agreed to adhere to the Constitution.

Earlier this month, the TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a paramilitary force in Balochistan. At least four Frontier Corps officials were martyred and 18 others injured in the attack near a checkpost on Quetta’s Mastung Road. There has been an uptick in attacks on security forces in recent months.

In reply to a question about evacuation of Afghans seeking help to flee their country, the foreign minister recalled Pakistan’s cooperation in last month’s evacuation from Afghanistan, saying it had facilitated the evacuation of more than 12,000 foreign nationals as well as many Afghan nationals.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2021

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