A day after the Taliban dictated terms for peace talks with the government, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said that the terrorists would not be allowed to take advantage of the government’s quest for peace.
The military has ‘the ability and the will’ to take the fight to the militants, Gen Kayani said in a policy statement on Monday. A day earlier at least eight security officials – including two senior cadres – were killed in a string of Taliban attacks in the tribal regions and part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The surge in Taliban violence came over a week after all major political groups mandated the government at an all-party conference to negotiate peace with homegrown militants. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an assortment of militants of all hues, instead of reciprocating the move, set two preconditions for talks: the government withdraw troops from all tribal regions and release all Taliban prisoners.
Gen Kayani, however, said the army would not let the terrorists to coerce the country into accepting their terms. While reaffirming the army’s support to the political process, the army chief also said unequivocally that terrorists will not be allowed to take advantage of it, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
He reiterated the Pakistan Army’s resolve and unflinching commitment to fighting the menace of terrorism in accordance with the will of the nation and at any cost. “While it is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process, no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms.”
His carefully worded statement came a day after the TTP claimed credit for Sunday’s deadly attack in Upper Dir district in which Maj Gen Sanaullah Niazi and Lt Col Tauseef and Lance Naik Mohammed Irfan were killed.
Gen Kayani vowed to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators of the cowardly acts of terrorism to justice. He lauded the “ultimate sacrifice of the Shaeeds and injured of the four cowardly acts of terrorism”.
He paid rich tributes to the exemplary courage, total commitment to duty and the demonstration of highest leadership qualities by Maj Gen Niazi. “The general officer has set towering example of leading from the front which is the hallmark of the leadership in Pakistan Army.”
Acknowledging Maj Gen Niazi’s ultimate sacrifice for the motherland, the army chief pledged to stand with the families of martyrs and injured. “The Pakistani nation and army will remain indebted to the sacrifices of their soldiers”.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2013.