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No 'unilateral' decision on Waziristan operation: PM Nawaz

29 January, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that no decision on launching an offensive in Waziristan would be taken without consensus of all stakeholders and any such decision would be taken in the best national interest.

The PM said this during a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif who called on him at the Prime Minister's House.

Sources said the prime minister exchanged views with the COAS on matters of national security, future course of action over dialogue with the Taliban, Karachi operation, missing persons and other issues.

Nawaz said that the "cancer of terrorism needs to be treated before it eats up our country". He said that no concession would be given to those who challenge the writ of the state and are creating lawlessness in the country.

The prime minister said that unmatched sacrifices of the Pakistan Army would not go in vain. The army chief also briefed the PM about border situation and lauded his initiative on taking all civil and military stakeholders on board before making any decision.

The meeting came a day after ministers held talks on Monday to discuss how to deal with the growing militant threat, nearly a week after air force jets bombarded suspected Taliban hideouts in North Waziristan tribal district.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government has been under fire for failing to make a strong response to the upsurge in violence. The government has for months said it favoured talks with the Taliban.

North Waziristan is a major stronghold for groups linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and debate is raging about whether a full-scale military ground offensive should be launched to rid the area of militants once and for all. At least 13 people were killed in a suicide bombing near the army HQ in the city of Rawalpindi on January 20. It came a day after 20 soldiers were killed when a bomb blast struck an army convoy in the north-west.

The United States has long pressured Pakistan to do more to wipe out militant strongholds, saying insurgents were using rear bases in North Waziristan to mount attacks on US troops in Afghanistan.

Separately talking to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Parvaiz Khattak, the prime minister said that prevailing situation in the country required unity of all stakeholders, including provincial governments, against the menace of terrorism. The prime minister said the federal government valued the contributions of all provincial governments towards strengthening the federation and understood the problems faced by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government while tackling terrorism.

The meeting also discussed the development activities being carried out in KP.

The prime minister said the federal government would provide support to the provincial government in order to overcome the problems.

He also directed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to hold discussions with the KP chief minister and other officials of the provincial government on the issues being faced by them.

During the meeting, Pervez Khattak demanded that the authorities concerned replace Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) chief Tariq Sadozai. The KP government has been protesting against prolonged power outages and had also alleged that Sadozai was the "real problem maker" in the province.

Khattak also complained against the attitude of Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali. The minister had earlier accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of protecting electricity thieves, taking PESCO staff hostage for ransom and "provincialising" the national energy challenge.

On Sunday, the working relationship between the KP government and PESCO further deteriorated when KP Information Minister Shah Farman raided the company chief's residence and accused him of stealing electricity through illegal power connections "taken directly from the power distribution line".

Matters relating to terrorism and negotiations with banned militant organisation Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were also discussed in the meeting between the PM and CM. The blockade of NATO supplies to Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also deliberated upon.

JUI-S opposes operation against Taliban

Jamait Ulema-e-Islam-Samiul Haq (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq on Tuesday opposed a military operation against the Taliban and said the government "does not seem serious for dialogue with the Taliban".

A military operation never resolves problems but it multiplies them, he said while addressing a seminar in Islamabad. He said that dialogue with the Taliban was the only way to restore peace in the country, adding that Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif has apparently been stopped from holding talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He said that he would oppose any military action against the TTP. He dispelled the impression that he was supporter of Taliban and said that the Taliban are his supporters.

Criticising Sharif's government for its failure to come up with a clear stance on the issue, the JUI-S leader said that people of tribal areas were being "sandwiched" from all directions. "A military operation will never be supported as 13,000 residents of North Waziristan have already migrated from the area," he added.

The JUI-S chief said he had met Mullah Omer's close friends recently and they believed that the US wants to wage a conflict between the Taliban and Pakistani military. He urged the government to announce a ceasefire and work for a peaceful solution to the problem.

JUI-F chief Fazlur Rahman, speaking on the occasion, said that Pakistan could not remain indifferent to the situation in Afghanistan and added that events occurring in the neighbouring country and KP have far-reaching impacts on the entire world. He noted that future decisions to be taken should not be based simply on the internal situation of Pakistan but they should be made keeping in view the regional situation.

Munnawar Hassan, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, said that peace could not be restored in Afghanistan until single official of US forces remain in the war-torn country.


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