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Opposition senators term peace talks futile exercise

07 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The opposition in Senate on Thursday termed peace negotiations between the government and Taliban a futile exercise, declaring it a "well-throughout strategy" by militants to ditch the government and regroup themselves.

Speaking on a motion moved by Raza Rabbani concerning law and order situation with particular reference to recent terrorist attacks, Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) stated that the government never goes for ceasefire, adding that it is militants who have to give up arms.

"The Taliban had no option but to go for talks in a bid to buy time and save themselves from the wrath of army after they were crushed in the aftermath of Bannu terrorist attacks," he said.

Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) questioned the legitimacy of the peace committee representing Taliban, saying that nobody from the Taliban is part and parcel of the body.

The ANP leader also criticised the government for doing no spadework as US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would create new problems and challenges for Pakistan.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the "civil-military disconnect are serious impediments to the fight against militancy". He said that the government had to remove this disconnect in its anti-militancy policy.

According to him, the disconnect has already been dramatised by incidents like Osama bin Laden's discovery from Abbottabad, the public admission by General (r) Pervez Musharraf in his book that tonnes of nuclear material had been smuggled out of Pakistan in a massive global proliferation of nuclear weapons and the kidnapping and subsequent disappearance and dumping of bodies in Balochistan.

Babar said that although this disconnect had been admitted by the interior minister during his address in the Senate in June last year when he also promised to address the issue, the government had failed to fulfil its pledge.

He said that admission by Mufti Hassan Swati – a Shura member of TTP – that the latest suicide attack in Peshawar targeting Shias had been carried out by his group at the instance of deputy commander of TTP Shaikh Khalid Haqqani should allay any doubts about the real intentions of the militants.

He said that Gul Mast who is shown sitting with Hassan Swati in the picture is the one who was paraded by the security establishment as national hero after the Charar Shairf incident in Indian-held Kashmir… which demonstrated the vast difference in the world view of the civil and security and intelligence establishments.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) said that had the government been serious about the talks, it would have not included people like Irfan Siddiqui to hold talks with militants. He regretted that the seriousness of government was exposed when another "midnight jackal" (Major Amir) was entrusted with the gigantic task. According to Agha, the Taliban reciprocated in a similar manner by making a body comprising Maulana Abdul Aziz and Samiul Haq.

"To task people like midnight jackal with a very important issue of holding talks with Taliban by ignoring parliament is shameful… the government has miserably failed and wants to pursue the policies of previous regime despite its tall claims, which is a joke with the nation," he added.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq told the Senate that there is no disconnect between civil and intelligence agencies at any level. He rejected the allegations levelled by Senator Farhatullah Babar, and said that that all agencies are working on the same page.

Raja told the House that before holding any formal negotiations with TTP, the government had taken all political forces into confidence without any prejudice.

He was of the opinion that terrorism is a long standing issue of the country and it might not be overcome immediately. It could take some time to bridge the gap and settle down all issues between the government and TTP, he said.


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