Pakistan to seek Akhundzada’s help against TTP

Apex Committee meeting decides not to launch military operation despite recent spike in terror attack


Kamran Yousaf February 03, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the apex committee in Peshawar on February 3, 2023. PHOTO: PID

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ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan has decide to seek the intervention of Afghan Taliban chief Haibuttallah Akhundzada to control the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), official sources familiar with the Apex Committee meeting in Peshawar said on Friday.
At the meeting, the civil and military leadership held the banned TTP responsible for the carnage in Peshawar this week, and decided to take up the matter with the interim Afghan government at the highest level, with a clear message that Pakistan would no longer tolerate cross-border terrorism.

Although the TTP has denied its involvement in Monday’s suicide blast at a mosque in the Peshawar Police Lines, a briefing given to the Apex Committee suggested that the banned outfit was indeed the mastermind of the attack.

The meeting at the Governor House in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) capital was held in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack in the Police Lines in which more than 100 people, mostly policemen, were martyred. The meeting was presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The participants of the meeting included Army chief Gen Syed Asim Munir, DG ISI Lt-Gen Nadeem Anjum, Peshawar Corps Commander, DGMO and other military officials as well as senior cabinet members, chief ministers of the four provinces, Gilgilt-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was invited to the all-important meeting but it did not attend. The marathon meeting discussed how the suicide bomber managed to enter the high security zone, who the perpetrator was and how the government would respond to the renewed threat posed by the TTP.

The meeting was informed that the TTP, indeed, carried out the attack but because of fear of backlash from the Afghan Taliban, it did not own it, publicly. Insiders told The Express Tribune that Pakistan would seek the intervention of Mullah Haibuttallah Akhundzada to control the banned outfit.

The meeting noted that despite the resurgence of terrorism in the country, terrorists did not hold any specific area, therefore there was no need for a full-scale military operations. Instead, according to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, the intelligence-based operations (IBOs) would continue.

The interior minister, who also attended the Apex Committee meeting, told a private news channel 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 the TTP sanctuaries must be eliminated.

The meeting also discussed the  previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to negotiate with the TTP and allow its members to resettle in the country. It was acknowledged that the decision was taken in haste. “It was miscalculation and misjudgement,” the meeting was told.

Army Chief Gen Asim also addressed the Apex Committee meeting. He said that some participants found him “very clear headed” on security issues. He added that the Army would act according to the direction of the civilian government in the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that the representatives of the sensitive institutions briefed the meeting on the overall security situation in the country and the operations against terrorists.

Inspector General of K-P Police Moazzam Jah Ansari briefed the meeting about the suicide attack on January 30 and the findings of the investigation. The meeting expressed firm resolve to ensure the safety of life and property of the nation at any cost and fulfil its hopes and trust.

The participants saluted all the law-enforcement agencies, including 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, national unity, the meeting warned, as the participants reviewed the implementation of the National Action Plan and the suggestions regarding its further improvement according to the current situation.

The meeting gave in-principle the approval to the proposals regarding NACTA, CTD and the police upgradation, training, provision of arms, technology and other necessary equipment. It was decided to immediately construct a CTD headquarters in K-P and establish a modern forensic laboratory.

In K-P, the Safe City project would also be launched like those in Islamabad and Lahore, while police, CTD training, efficiency would be increased and modern equipment would be provided.

Border management control and immigration system were also reviewed in the meeting. The stages of investigation, prosecution and punishment to terrorists were also considered.

It was also agreed that all the organs of the state must work in the spirit of complete unity, cooperation and achievement of common national goals for the eradication of terrorism and in this regard, legislation would be enacted as per the need.

The meeting agreed in principle on adopting ‘one thought, one strategy’ between the federation and the provinces for the elimination of terrorism and directed the preparation of an effective strategy in this regard.

The meeting also agreed to eliminate all sources of support for terrorists within the country and directed effective screening in this regard. The meeting also decided that the attitude of zero-tolerance for all types and all forms of terrorism will be the national motto, while national consensus would ensure the implementation of these decisions.

The meeting praised the decision of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to call an All Parties Conference (APC) and expressed the hope that all the national political leadership would sit on the table to end terrorism and decide the steps through national consensus.

The meeting appealed to the scholars and religious leaders to use the forum of Mimbar-o-Mahrab to help end terrorism; inform the public with the clear message that such attacks were forbidden and against the Quran and Sunnah and those who shed innocent blood have nothing to do with Islam.

PM’s address

Earlier, in his initial remarks, Shehbaz said the K-P witnessed a fresh spate of terrorist incidents that needed capacity-building of its security departments. He said that the federal government would extend maximum support to strengthening the CTD and the K-P police.

Shehbaz urged all the stakeholders to sit together to help wipe out terrorism in its all forms and manifestation. He said that criticism for the sake of criticism should be avoided and facts should not be distorted and the truth must prevail.

The prime minister mentioned that all the national political and religious parties’ leadership including the “one who do not want to shake hands with me”, were invited to today’s Apex Committee meeting and an All Parties conference to be held in Islamabad on February 7.

Referring to the negotiations with International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said the talks were under way with the government team, adding: “Despite IMF’s strict terms and conditions, the government would take the decisions while keeping in view the national interest supreme.”

The prime minister said the economic challenges being faced by the country were enormous and the IMF conditions that the country had to meet were beyond imagination, adding the government would take strict decisions to take the country out of the economic quagmire.

On this occasion, Prime Minister Shehbaz announced Rs2 million compensation to the family of each martyred and Rs0.5 million for each injured in the Police Lines mosque blast. Later, the participants offered Fateha for the martyrs of the suicide attack and prayed for early recovery lf the injured.

(WITH INPUT FROM APP)

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