Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that the number of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters in the region was between 7,000 to 10,000, adding that some of the militants who had previously laid down arms have now secretly resumed activities.

In an interview with Dawn News TV programme Live with Adil Shahzeb on Tuesday, he revealed that there were around 7,000 to 10,000 TTP fighters in the region and they were accompanied by 25,000 members of their families.

Sanaullah pointed out that some locals were also involved in crimes such as extortion and blackmail and alleged that the provincial government had failed to stop them.

“The biggest reason for this is the failure of [the] Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Counter Terrorism Department […] It is their job to stop it.”

Sanaullah said that Pakistan had its army for the protection of the borders, adding that if the provincial government can not handle the situation, it can request the federal government. “The army will eliminate all such elements of terrorism.”

Commenting on the prevalent viewpoint that TTP took the dialogue and ceasefire excuse to regroup, Sanaullah said the group never scattered and was further bolstered by the success of the Afghan Taliban.

Agreeing with the idea of an all-parties conference or a national security meeting on the emerging threat of terrorism, the minister said such huddles must take place but stressed that the KP government first needed to sit with the federal government and talk.

“The KP government needs to inform the federal government about the law and order in the province — counter-terrorism department is in perils and the police are demoralised — and ask what help the Centre can extend and it is ready to assist them.

“We held two meetings in Islamabad where the chief minister was invited but the latter didn’t show up as he was planning to mount on the capital [for a long march] and was not allowed by party chief Imran Khan,” Sanaullah claimed.

Audio leaks

Meanwhile, in response to a question on the recent audio leaks of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the interior minister said “such things are recorded” when one led a life as the former premier did.

He said the alleged leaks dated to a time when “we didn’t even have any problem with him”.

Sanaullah claimed that he had seen some of the alleged audios and videos of the PTI chief himself, adding that a forensic audit was carried out of one of the audio leaks and the results were “absolutely right and genuine”.

He said “non-political” people had the audio and video clips and were behind leaking them.

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