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Govt re-offers ‘olive branch’ to TTP, but warns against attacks

22 Jan, 2022
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Islamabad. Photo: Screengrab/Aaj News
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Islamabad. Photo: Screengrab/Aaj News

Against the backdrop of resurgence of terrorist attacks in the country, the federal government on Saturday again extended an olive branch to the banned TTP group but warned of equal response if the latter opted to fight.

“Our doors are open if they [Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan] want to adhere to Pakistan’s Constitution, law, and Pakistan flag. And if they will fight so they will be fought,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said in a press conference in Islamabad.

The minister’s statement comes as the country tackles the new wave of terrorist activities after the outlawed group claimed responsibility for killing police officers in Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Moreover, a new separatist group named Baloch Nationalist Army on January 21 claimed responsibility for the blast in Lahore's Anarkali market where three persons, including a minor boy, were killed and 26 others were injured.

Rashid said a few groups left out of Afghanistan were conducting such attacks and TTP wanted to create an atmosphere of terrorism in the country but they would not succeed.

“Around 31-35% increase has been witnessed in terror attacks after August 15, this is an attempt to decrease our moral, strength, army, and people,” Rashid said, adding that the government would handle the recent surge in terror attacks.

The interior ministry has ordered all the armed forces, civil forces, and provincial government to exercise “extreme vigilance” and stay alert to deal with any untoward situation, according to a statement issued by the interior ministry on Friday.

To a question regarding talks with the banned TTP group, he said: “The [Afghan] Taliban were talking to the TTP, and in our meetings, we were told about their demands and conditions which were unacceptable and the talks did not go ahead.” The banned group broke the ceasefire and the government didn’t approach them, he said, adding that one group cannot be blamed for all terror attacks. He lauded the Afghan Taliban role in negotiations.

To another query, he said the government has apprehended the culprits of the Dasu attack – where 10 Chinese nationals lost their lives and another 26 were hurt in a suicide attack on a bus – as it has conducted its investigation. “No power can break our friendship, we will never sacrifice our friendship for someone’s interest,” Rashid said.

Moreover, he said the government was after “one person” in the Lahore attack and excused to give more details

On rising clamour for “presidential system or an emergency situation,” he said the opposition would be blamed in case of such a situation as it would lead to a “democratic loss” for the country.

He added that no such recommendation has been brought into the cabinet.

Rashid also advised the opposition leaders to revise their date of protest against the government as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s leaders and foreign delegates were coming on March 23. Moreover, coronavirus threat was looming in the country and the day would have military parades. He advised the opposition to stage a protest on March 24 or 27.

“Opposition has no strength and they have no value,” he said while talking about their move to submit a no-confidence motion against the premier in parliament.