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Govt unveils new rules of engagement against TTP

27 February, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday unveiled the much-talked-about national security policy in the National Assembly with the main thrust on a major policy shift to retaliate militarily against any violence and attack from the Tehreek-e-Taliban militants in the future.

Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, who presented the policy, stopped short of announcing a full-fledged military operation against the militants, which promoted a sharp reply from opposition leader in National Assembly Khursheed Shah who opined that this has further increased ambiguity as to which way the government would go – either for army operation or sticking to the option of dialogue.

Nisar, who only shared the policy with the fellow parliamentarians by verbally telling its key points, did not give its copies to the House members and said that it should not be construed as the final document as it can be fine-tuned with the suggestions of the parliamentarians and political leadership. The minister said the 100-page policy document comprised of three parts, one of which was secret that is related with the operational functions. Second part would be dealt with the strategies to combat terrorism and the third part would be of strategic nature.

He told the House that the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) would be made pro-active to implement the new security policy and emphasis would be laid on improving the intelligence network along with establishing Raid Response Force with helicopters at its disposal to deal with the menace of terrorism and militancy speedily. Also, an Internal Security Division is being established to strengthen coordination between all the civil armed forces of the country, he added.

Apart from speaking on technical aspects of the policy, the interior minister pleaded for political consensus for curbing the evil, while noting this was done in all the countries which faced with terrorism. Observing that the country's political forces should be wary of the developing differences on the issue, Nisar said that the terrorism issue was complicated and its resolution was not easy. He said that instead of being critical of the government political forces should assist the government in dealing with the issue which had assumed gargantuan proportions.

Nisar said developing a political consensus was imperative to dealing with terrorism, adding that it was not appropriate to score points on the issue when it was not just peace but the state's existence at stake. The minister also talked about the coverage of militants in a high profile way in the media and noted that it is not appropriate to give them coverage on every issue and initiative of the government.

The interior minister was critical when he spoke about the input received from the political parties and the provinces. He said that except the MQM no one gave their suggestions. Nisar said the policy document would be handed out to the parliamentarians and appealed that they stand by the government in ensuring security across the country. He said the policy would be improved step by step and its implementation and effectiveness would be reviewed during the next six months.

Immediately after the speech of Nisar Ali Khan, Khursheed Shah took the floor and noted that the talk of the minister further added to the confusion with regard to the government's future line of action. "It appears that the government could not take a decision between military operation or dialogue." Shah also rejected the impression by the interior minister that there was no political consensus and recalled the support of opposition parties when the government went for dialogue that was decided in the all-parties conference (APC).

"We will support the government in the future too. But to give the impression that political parties did not support it is totally wrong," Shah stated and complained that it was the government that did not take the opposition into confidence when talks with the militants hit the snag.


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