ISLAMABAD: The coalition government has been asked to convene a joint sitting of parliament immediately to discuss the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) fresh claim about a breakdown of negotiations with Pakistani authorities and instructions to its militants to carry out terrorist attacks across the country.

As the TTP announcement to call off the ceasefire indicates that people of Pakistan were being kept in dark, a clear policy is required to deal with violent extremism rather than the ‘policy of use of force and appeasement’.

These demands were made by PPP Senator Raza Rabbani in a statement issued here on Wednesday, a day after Gen Asim Munir took over army’s command.

The banned outfit earlier on Nov 28 announced it was calling off the ceasefire agreed with the Pakistan government in June.

The senator also highlighted the need for making the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) more effective which, according to him, would become possible by “removing National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf from its chairmanship” since due to time constraints, the NA speaker could not effectively chair the PCNS.

He was of the opinion that over the past few months, the state had been concealing the facts despite an increase in terrorism throughout the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “The re-emergence of militancy in the shape of TTP finishing the ceasefire has made it clear that the state continues to keep the people of Pakistan in the dark, as this announcement was made by the TTP,” he said.

“There was clear evidence of increasing sporadic attacks, extortion demands and kidnapping. The people of Swat held massive rallies against the increase in terrorism but the state relied by applying the anti-terrorism act on innocent citizens.”

The PPP senator alleged that the state had failed to provide adequate infrastructure despite four years of Fata’s merger with KP. Secondly, he said, the state had refused to engage with peaceful civilian movements that have a potential of standing up against militancy.

“I made repeated demands for a joint session of the parliament to discuss the increase in terrorism but it has fallen on deaf ears,” he regretted.

Last year, when the talks began with the TTP, Mr Rabbani had made a similar demand, stating that the PTI government had no right or mandate to enter into talks with the banned entity without taking the parliament into confidence.

“The Pakistani parliament should be locked and the key thrown away, rather than suffering humiliation and being shown to be redundant every day,” Mr Rabbani had gone to the extent of saying while commenting on the interview of the then prime minister Imran Khan with TRT World in which he had offered general pardon to the TTP provided the banned group laid down weapons.

In the same interview, the prime minister had disclosed that the Pakistan government was in talks with some groups of the TTP seeking reconciliation.

Talks between Pakistani officials and the militant outfit started in October last year under the PTI government but broke down in May this year due to a deadlock on the revocation of the merger of erstwhile tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Subsequently, attacks by the TTP have been on the rise since September after the group’s ceasefire with the army ended.

Most of the attacks have happened in and around Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, South Waziristan, and North Waziristan districts in KP, while the Quetta blast was the latest in a series of attacks.

The decision to call off the ceasefire, according to the TTP, was taken after “a series of non-stop attacks were launched by the military organisations in Bannu’s Lakki Marwat district.” The banned group said it had repeatedly warned the people of Pakistan and “continued to be patient so that the negotiation process is not sabotaged at least by us,” adding: “but the army and intelligence agencies did not stop and continued the attacks [...] now our retaliatory attacks will also start across the country.”

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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