No decision taken yet on granting amnesty to TTP members: Moeed Yusuf

Published November 11, 2021
National Security Adviser Mooed Yusuf speaks to DawnNewsTV anchorperson Adil Shahzeb. — DawnNewsTV
National Security Adviser Mooed Yusuf speaks to DawnNewsTV anchorperson Adil Shahzeb. — DawnNewsTV

National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf said on Wednesday that no decision had been taken yet to grant amnesty to members of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), emphasising that the state was "very clear and sensitive" on the issue.

He made the comment in an interview on DawnNews programme Live with Adil Shahzeb.

At the outset, Yusuf talked about the government's decision to hold talks with the TTP, saying the militant group had been receiving support from India and Afghan intelligence for the last 10-15 years.

Pakistan had repeatedly told the international community that the Pakistani Taliban had fled to Afghanistan following the Zarb-i-Azb military operation, received sanctuary and were launching attacks from the neighbouring country, the NSA said.

"We gave the whole dossier last year containing [details] of which attack, from where, how much money was spent, pictures of receipts, everything," he said, referring to the report revealed by the government in November 2020 containing proofs of India's involvement in terrorism in Pakistan.

"When the situation changed [after the Taliban's takeover] ... the Afghan Taliban are not as antagonistic towards Pakistan as former president Ashraf Ghani. Now the discussion started that the TTP does not have the support base that they (Ghani's government) and India provided.

"You talk from a position of strength and try to reason. If any Pakistani has strayed from the path and if he [wants to become] a law-abiding citizen according to the laws of Pakistan and the Constitution [...] It means if you have committed a crime or terrorism in Pakistan, you will follow the due process of the law."

When the host asked him whether he was referring to an amnesty, the NSA responded by saying that no such decision had been taken yet.

"I don't know where this talk started from — that a decision has been made. There is no such decision [of a general amnesty]."

He said the government was aware that agreements with the TTP in the past had not held, adding that at the present stage, talks were being held and the government would see if the TTP was serious.

"The state's job is to defend its public and not to go with the kinetic option — using bullets — until it becomes impossible to avoid it," he stressed.

Read: Ambiguity around terms of negotiations has made TTP talks extremely controversial

"This is an emotional issue. No Pakistani is left who has not been directly or indirectly affected by terrorism."

In response to another question about opposition lawmakers not being satisfied with the security briefing given last week, Yusuf said: "It is their choice. The state can only inform.

"This is a decision of the entire nation. These processes [of talks] will continue."

Talking about the need to hold talks with the TTP, Yusuf said world history, data and statistics showed that an overwhelming majority of conflicts ended with dialogue.

"If you take the position to look at their past, then talks cannot be held. You have to fight till the end," he added.

Govt-TLP agreement

Yusuf also defended the controversial agreement between the government and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), saying avoiding bloodshed was the foremost priority of the government.

"The state always has several options besides the use of bullet, but it is the responsibility of the state to save its citizens," he maintained.

The NSA said he was sure that the TLP had Indian support but that did not mean there was direct funding or persons directly involved with them in Pakistan. "It is the age of hybrid war and everything is possible," he said.

Afghan Taliban

On the subject of Afghanistan's new rulers, Yusuf said Pakistan did not hold much control over the Afghan Taliban, unlike the common belief. "We do not hold much sway over Afghan Taliban," he stated, adding that Afghanistan was an independent country and its government had its own way of running affairs.

The NSA warned the international community that a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan would not hurt just the Taliban but also the common man, whom the United States and the West wanted to save and rescue.

"So the world must come to help Afghans beyond the rhetoric of the international community recognising Afghanistan," he remarked.

Yusuf also said any crisis in Afghanistan would mean the first and foremost impact would be on Pakistan.

Answering a question, he said whatever was agreed with the United States related to Afghanistan would be transparent unlike in the past.

"We will share everything with the public and not hide anything unlike the past and keep it transparent," he stressed.

When asked about airspace and other logistical support the US had sought from Pakistan, the NSA said "the US is confused as there are lots of goings-on so it is unclear what they are up to." But he added that Pakistan was in talks with Washington on different issues including health and climate change.

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