KARACHI: Interior Mini­ster Rana Sanaullah indicated on Thursday that there was no possibility of discussion with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the withdrawal of the military from the tribal areas near the Afghan border, and reversal of the Fata merger.

In an interview with Nadeem Malik on Samaa TV, Sanaullah said the talks were only possible with those willing to lay down their arms. When asked about the strength of the TTP fighters, the minister said the “TTP fighting force” comprised 4,000 to 5,000 members.

He said that it was to be seen “what kind of people” would take part in the talks from the other side. If representatives of the political government in Afghanistan are in attendance, then politicians from our side will also participate in the discussion, he added.

The minister said that sec­uring an outcome from the talks “will take some mon­ths.” Sanaullah insisted that the civil and military leadership were on the same page that the TTP militants would not be allowed to take up arms. “Otherwise, we won’t shy away from the fight”.

“The military leadership assured us that we have the capacity and the power to sort these issues out effectively,” the minister added.

He said the involvement of foreign elements could not be ruled out in terror attacks in Pakistan, saying there were some forces behind the TTP that did not want peace in the country. The minister said that a security briefing given on Wednesday was “comprehensive” and covered all aspects of the issue but there were no “suggestive measures” in it.

Sanaullah said that guidance was sought from the parliamentary committee, and the lawmakers were told about the “repercussions” of different actions.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2022

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