Pakistan to raise TTP issue at highest level with Kabul

The country’s civil and military leadership on Friday held the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) responsible for the Peshawar carnage, deciding to take up the matter at the highest level with the interim Afghan government with a clear message that Pakistan will no longer tolerate cross-border terrorism.

Although the TTP denied its involvement, the briefing given to the civil and military leadership at the apex committee meeting suggested that the banned outfit indeed was the mastermind.

It was therefore decided to take up the issue with the highest Afghan leadership, according to official sources familiar with the committee meeting proceedings. The high-powered meeting was held at the Governor House in Peshawar on Friday in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at a mosque in the Police Lines area.

The meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir, DG ISI Lt General Nadeem Anjum, Corps Commander Peshawar, DG MO and other military officials as well as senior cabinet members, chief ministers of the four provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was invited to the all-important meeting, but it did not attend.

The marathon meeting discussed in detail how the suicide bomber managed to enter the high security zone, who was the perpetrator, and how the government was going to respond to the renewed threat posed by the TTP.

Insiders told The Express Tribune that Pakistan would seek the intervention of Afghan Taliban chief Haibuttallah Akhundzada to control the banned TTP. Though the TTP publicly denied its involvement, the participants of the meeting were informed that it was indeed the TTP which carried out the attack but because of backlash from the Afghan Taliban, it did not publicly own it.

The meeting noted that despite the resurgence of terrorism in the country, terrorists do not hold any specific area, therefore there was no need for a full scale military operations. Rather, interior minister Rana Sanaullah, who attended the meeting, told a private news channel that intelligence-based operations would continue.

The minister said that it was possible that the Peshawar attack masterminds were in Afghanistan and the government would raise the issue with the neighbouring country.

The meeting was informed that the Afghan Taliban expressed their inability to take on the TTP. However, Pakistan was not convinced and decided to convey to the Afghan leadership at the highest level that TTP sanctuaries must be eliminated.

The decision of the previous government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan to negotiate with the TTP and allow its members to resettle also came up for debate. It was acknowledged that the decision to negotiate with the TTP was taken in haste. It was a miscalculation and misjudgment, the meeting was told.

Army chief Gen Asim also addressed the apex committee meeting and some participants found him “very clear-headed” on security issues. He said the army would act according to the direction of the civilian government on the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the PM office said the meeting reviewed in detail the incidents of terrorism, especially the suicide attack on the mosque of Peshawar Police Lines on January 30 and the situation after that.The representatives of the sensitive institutions briefed the meeting on the overall security situation, operations against terrorists, while Inspector General of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police Muazzam Jah Ansari briefed the meeting on the investigation and progress of the suicide attack at the Police Lines mosque.

The meeting assured the nation that the terrorists who shed the blood of Pakistanis will be made an example and those who attack innocent Pakistanis will be punished in every way.

The meeting expressed a firm resolve to ensure the safety of life and property of the nation at any cost and to fulfil its hopes and trust.

The meeting saluted all the law enforcement agencies including the Pakistan Army, Rangers, FC, CTD, and police for showing unprecedented bravery against terrorism and paid tribute to the officers and soldiers who sacrificed their lives.

The meeting appealed to all sections, especially the media, to adopt the same attitude of national responsibility regarding the incidents of terrorism, and with the same responsibility, not to be a part of spreading baseless speculations on social media. This behaviour is detrimental to the requirements of national security and national unity, it said.

The meeting reviewed the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and the suggestions regarding its further improvement according to the current situation.

The meeting also gave in-principle approval to the proposals for the upgradation of NACTA, CTD and police, and the provision of training, weapons, technology and other necessary equipment to them.

K-P to get forensic lab

It was decided that a CTD headquarters would be built immediately in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and a forensic laboratory would also be established there like the one in Punjab province.

Moreover, on the pattern of Lahore and Islamabad, a safe city project would be initiated in K-P and the capacity building of the police and CTD would be carried out besides providing them with the latest equipment.

The meeting reviewed the mechanisms of border management control and immigration besides deliberating over the processes of investigations against terrorists, prosecution and their conviction.

It was decided that all the state organs would work in complete cohesion and coordination and with utmost dedication for the elimination of terrorism and the achievement of collective national goals. Necessary legislation would also be carried out in this regard.

The apex committee principally agreed to adopt a single approach and strategy by the centre and federating units for the elimination of terrorism and directed to formulate an effective strategy for the purpose.

The meeting decided to plug in all the sources of support to the terrorists within the country and instructed them to carry out an effective screening for the purpose.

The committee decided that zero tolerance for terrorism in all its forms and manifestations would be the national objective and that all the said decisions would be implemented through a national consensus.

The participants lauded the decision of the prime minister to call an All Parties’ Conference and expressed the hope that the national political leadership will sit together to forge a way forward for the eradication of terrorism and take decisions through national consensus.

They appealed to religious leaders and scholars to use the forum of their pulpit for the elimination of terrorism.

They said ulema should inform the public about the categorical announcements of “Paigham-e-Pakistan” and religious guidance of sacred institutions about the fact that terror attacks were sinful and against the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Religious scholars should apprise that those who shed the blood of innocent people have nothing to do with Islam.


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