ISLAMABAD: PPP Senator Raza Rabbani on Monday asked the government to take the Senate into confidence on the talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) amid reports that the latter had been demanding rolling back of the merger of the country’s tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The upper house of parliament, which met after a two-day recess, later witnessed an exchange of heated arguments on the government’s move to clip the powers of the National Accountability Bureau through an amendment to the NAB Ordinance as the opposition members belonging to the PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami participated in the proceedings wearing black armbands.
Taking the floor after JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed raised the issue of target killings in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Mr Rabbani said he believed that the government, especially Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, should take the house into confidence about the status of the talks with the TTP.
Mr Rabbani said first it was announced that the TTP had declared a temporary ceasefire, which was later turned into a permanent ceasefire, but one of the factions of the TTP had increased terrorist activities in the country.
“What are the conditions of the TTP for the agreement? I have heard through media that the TTP’s patent demand is rolling back of the merger of Fata and they are adamant on it. Such decisions are to be made by the public and not behind the doors,” he said.
When the PPP leader asked Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to issue directives for the defence minister to come to the house for a briefing, the chairman gave no response and started seeking approval of the leave applications of the members.
Referring to a recent visit of a jirga to Afghanistan, Mr Rabbani said jirgas were not a substitute to parliament. He said there would be no acceptability of the any deal with the TTP without parliament’s nod.
Earlier, Mushtaq Ahmed drew the attention of the house to the target killings of four tribal men in North Waziristan. He said they were well educated and vying to stop target killings in the area and the government had recently reached an agreement with them. Later, “good Taliban” claimed the responsibility of the attack, he said, expressing surprise that it happened despite the presence of security forces there.
The Senate chairman referred the issue to the relevant committee on the request of the JI senator.
Later, the house witnessed a heated debate on the move to amend the accountability laws.
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022