Operation or talks: PML-N fails to decide

Published: January 28, 2014
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the parliamentary party meeting of PML-N at PM Office on January 27, 2014. PHOTO: PID

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the parliamentary party meeting of PML-N at PM Office on January 27, 2014. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: 

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has failed to take a decision on how to deal with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) even though a sizeable majority in the ruling party is in favour of a military operation.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convened a meeting of PML-N’s parliamentary party on Monday just before the National Assembly session to get feedback from his party’s lawmakers. However, the meeting could not decide between a decisive military operation against the Taliban or initiating another effort to engage them in talks.

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“A majority of our lawmakers favoured going for a military operation. But some of them also said the doors to dialogue should remain open. No formal decision has been taken yet,” Mohsin Ranjha, the parliamentary secretary for the information ministry, told reporters after the meeting.

“Without eliminating extremism, we cannot place Pakistan on the path of development. We will take every step to restore peace in the country. Officers and soldiers of our armed forces are laying down their lives and their blood will not go in vain,” an official handout quoted the prime minister as saying.

The government’s vacillation incensed the opposition as did the prime minister’s absence from the National Assembly, where he was expected to give a policy statement in the house.

In his absence, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan tried to cajole the enraged opposition with a lengthy speech. However, his declamation could not pacify them.

The opposition parties unanimously demanded a timely decision in the wake of the recent attacks on the security forces and the deteriorating law and order situation.

Addressing their concerns, Nisar said the premier did not attend Monday’s session deliberately because more deliberation was needed before announcing a policy statement. He also came down hard on the main opposition party, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), for ‘unduly’ criticising the government on not taking any decision so far. “Why did you not start a military operation or sit for talks with the TTP during your five-year term,” Nisar said addressing Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah.

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The interior minister informed the lawmakers that the government has once again started consulting all stakeholders on both options – negotiation or military operation. “Both choices are tough because the rival is not a visible force or party. We will take briefings from all intelligence agencies of the country, we have already met the military leadership and we will discuss the options with the country’s political leadership too,” he added.

Earlier, Khursheed Shah said the parliamentarians were looking forward to the prime minister’s policy statement, as that would have provided the nation some hope, but the premier preferred to stay away.

“The prime minister should have attended this session, which was convened after a long delay. These are defining moments [of history] and all eyes are on the leadership and the prime minister who have to play their part,” Shah said. “We want to support him on this national issue,” he added.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan also criticised the premier, saying that the country was facing a leadership crisis. The prime minister paid several visits to other countries but it seemed like internal peace was not his priority, he said.

Imran reiterated that all political parties must be taken into confidence on what the next steps of the government would be. “Let me make one thing clear: we are not pro-Taliban. We want the Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan because we are followers of Allama Iqbal. We support negotiation process with the Taliban for the same reasons,” he explained.

Moreover, that was the consensus after all four all parties’ conferences anyway, the PTI chief added. “In case we wage war, have we calculated the damage and the retaliation, which was why we did not conduct an operation in Waziristan earlier,” he asked, quoting former spy chief Shuja Pasha’s briefing to the APC.

Meanwhile, other parliamentarians, including MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar and AML’s Sheikh Rasheed, also pressed the government to take a policy decision – and fast.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • AnisAqeel
    Jan 28, 2014 - 4:35AM

    PTI’s Imran Khan says “In case we wage war, have we calculated the damage and the retaliation,”
    Please leave this matter on the Military planners who can calculate the damage and the retaliation, you can just state the damage we already have from not cleaning up this mess on the first place.

    Recommend

  • Observer
    Jan 28, 2014 - 5:49AM

    by watching the Pakistani TV talk shows on the internet and reading news from Pakistan, I have concluded that Pakistan has gone brain-dead. When the anchors and the so called intellectuals behave the way they do on these shows and knowing how naive and gullible the pakistani youth is, as suggested by its support for the most naive “leader”, I see no hope for pakistan.

    Recommend

  • A2Z
    Jan 28, 2014 - 5:58AM

    ET blame it on Imran Khan as you just love it to blame him for every problem in Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Jan 28, 2014 - 6:29AM

    It seems the immature and baffled government shall adopt the Golden Middle Way, i.e neither any war nor any talks and maintain the status quo.

    Recommend

  • Observer
    Jan 28, 2014 - 6:39AM

    so if the retaliation is going to be severe, than should we just accept the current killings and behave like a total coward like this idiot khan? What a stupid thing for this character to say, serving no purpose other than to scare people and support his friend talibans

    Recommend

  • Jg
    Jan 28, 2014 - 6:43AM

    That’s strange.mr buzdil khan is really worried about retaliation from terrorists.my answer,we will die fighting then and continue to make life as miserable for TTP as possible.neither TTP nor their apologists hold a key to pak success or bright future for next generation.

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  • Iftikhar Khan
    Jan 28, 2014 - 7:50AM

    Mr. Nisar, the govt and other politicians, If it is a difficult decision and obviously you are unable to handle it then why did you took this responsibility of a minister? Who gave you the idea that it will be an easy job?

    Recommend

  • umer
    Jan 28, 2014 - 8:15AM

    Hi, Good decision in favour of country but some elements of terrorist are seen there.PML(n) will be best if it stay without terrorist elements.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Jan 28, 2014 - 8:50AM

    The time for the Prime Minister to act for peace in the land is gone. The destruction caused by the areal bombing is 0being shown on TV net works. This tantamounts to the use of excessive force against civilian population.
    Now is the time to construct cantonments around the cities which the British did.

    Rex Minor

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  • MAD
    Jan 28, 2014 - 10:30AM

    @AnisAqeel: Read the whole statement. Imran Khan was quoting General Shuja Pasha’s briefing to the first APC held on this issue.

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  • Aysha M
    Jan 28, 2014 - 2:36PM

    Indecision, inertia and ineptitude define the climate of Islamabad and the state of mind of the third time Prime Minister who is currently leading a simple majority government. The buck does stop somewhere with someone and should stop at the PM House. Anybody home?

    Recommend

  • AnisAqeel
    Jan 28, 2014 - 8:02PM

    @MAD: I did read that whole statement. Instead of finding a failed ‘general’s’ shoulder he should not be afraid, apologetic or a fake ‘Tipu Sultan’ and must come up with open, clear and bold politician as Bilawal Bhutto, a so called kid (I don’t have any affiliation with PPP).Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Jan 29, 2014 - 7:41PM

    @AnisAqeel:

    Bilawal Bhutto has placed himself in the cadre of radical extrmist cadre instead of acting as an important political opposition!

    Rex MinorRecommend

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