Home Latest News Defense Minister Voices Concern over Rise of TTP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Defense Minister Voices Concern over Rise of TTP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Lawmakers in National Assembly warn of terrorists’ return to northern areas amidst ongoing ‘peace talks’

by Staff Report

File photo

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday acknowledged the rise of terrorism in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul last year, adding that the worsening law and order situation was a “national issue” that needed the attention of the entire nation.

Responding to independent MNA Mohsin Dawar tabling in the National Assembly the revival of terrorism in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he regretted that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership, which leads the government in the province, had welcomed the Taliban to the province in the past and was now protesting against its negative fallout. He also admitted the veracity of mass protests against the return of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from Dir, Swat and other places in the province.

Referring to the peace talks between the government and the TTP—ongoing since last October—that have been spearheaded by the military, he prayed that they would not collapse. “The danger is gradually increasing,” he warned, reiterating that the only way for the talks to succeed was for the Taliban to back off their demands for imposition of “their own [governance] system” in the province and stop trying to implement “intentions” that they had showed repeatedly in the past.

Asif said the government had formed a committee comprising political elders to visit the Pak-Afghan entry point in North Waziristan to persuade protesters to re-open trade routes that had been shuttered for two weeks following the killing of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) activists and local residents. Hoping the trade route would soon resume, he said its closure had badly affected trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the local economy.

The minister was responding to a point of order raised by MNA Dawar, who had briefed the Lower House on the people of North Waziristan protesting for “peace and protection” for the past 26 days. Maintaining that terrorism had spread across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he warned that it could spread nationwide and noted that a PTI MPA had recently been attacked and several of his companions killed. He also referred to reports of a police official and an Army major being abducted by militants in Swat.

According to Dawar, the Taliban had been telling locals they had been directed to return to the region in the wake of ongoing peace talks. He chided the PTI leaders for protesting against the Taliban now when they had welcomed the takeover of Afghanistan. He also lamented the “non-seriousness” of authorities to tackle the issue, stressing that the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would not accept any policy that sought to facilitate the TTP.

Odds and ends

The National Assembly on Wednesday also passed four bills and introduced three others. Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan introduced the Railways (Amendment) Bill 2022; the Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Qanun-e-Shahadat (Amendment) Bill 2022 with an aim to substitute the death penalty with life-imprisonment. Statements attached to the bills noted the amendments were necessary to avoid any potential “arbitrary” application of the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the Lower House passed the National Meteorology Institute of Pakistan Bill 2022; the Public Private Partnership Authority (Amendment) Bill 2022; the Iqbal Academy Pakistan Bill 2022 and the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022.

The National Assembly also debated the ongoing social media campaign targeting the armed forces, with government lawmakers blaming the PTI for instigating it. Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said attacking the judiciary and the Army were a violation of the Constitution, adding Parliament should debate and denounce such campaigns.

Also on Wednesday, the National Assembly approved a motion tabled by PPP MNA Shahida Rehmani to de-seat PTI MNA Mohammadmian Soomro for being absent from the House without leave for 40 consecutive days. Unlike the rest of the PTI lawmakers, Soomro had not submitted his resignation at the time of the election of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister.

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