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Ready for negotiations with TTP but no compromise on security: Pak Interior Minister

Interior Minister Says Indian Spy Agency RAW Using Local Criminals To Carry Out Terror Attacks In Pakistan

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed addressing a parliament session. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said that the government was ready to hold negotiations with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but warned that any group posing threat to country’s national security will be dealt with an iron fist.

Addressing the Senate session on Monday, the interior minister said the number of terror incidents in the country has witnessed a surge since August 15 following the fall of Kabul to Taliban.

Rashid said no talks were under way with any groups at the moment and added that negotiations with any outlawed group would be held within the ambit of Constitution.

The interior minister informed the upper house of parliament that the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was using local Pakistani criminals to carryout terrorist activities in the country. He said the security agencies were on high-alert and taking all measures to curb such activities.

Rashid said a ‘unanimous narrative’ was required to defeat the menace of terrorism and lauded the opposition parties for condemning the terrorist incidents.

The minister said India never wanted to see cordial ties between Pakistan and the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan Army is dealing with the threat of terrorism, and takes action wherever the menace rears its ugly head,” he said. “Pakistan will not allow anyone to challenge its integrity and will root out the menace of terrorism,” he maintained.

He also urged the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to reschedule its ‘inflation march’ from March 23 to any other date citing security concerns.

He said the government will not allow terrorists to ruin peace of the country. “This land is as important to you (opposition) as it is to [PM] Imran Khan, so I urge you to please reschedule your march,” he remarked.

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Rashid said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was a victim of terrorist attacks and so was he. “The night before [former PM] Benazir Bhutto was martyred, we asked her to not take her political rally to [Rawal]pindi… but, a leader always ignores warnings because they think these are just government servants, and they want to interrupt and ruin the rally. She didn't listen, and she was martyred,” he stated.

“They [opposition] can say anything they want about me… I am warning you for your safety! I will warn you about security threats and Covid threats. Reschedule your march. Half of Islamabad will be shut, phones will be shut. Your march won't be shown live.”

Last week, the interior minister announced that the doors were still open for the banned TTP if they were ready to accept the law and the Constitution of the country.

Rashid added that if the TTP chose to fight then they would receive an “equal response”.

On the same day, his ministry through a notification directed the provincial governments and the law enforcement agencies to stay alert as well as exercise extreme vigilance in connection with the recent terrorist attack in Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar and the threats posed by “anti-state elements”.

Elaborating further, talks between the government and the TTP – facilitated by the Afghan Taliban – had failed as the group had put up some conditions that were unacceptable. “The Afghan Taliban had facilitated the talks with some TTP groups, but their conditions and demands were harsh and unacceptable,” he had said.

The minister conceded a spike in terror attacks in Pakistan, saying smaller groups had become active and attacking in different parts of the country “following Taliban’s success” against Indian RAW and 42 foreign forces in Afghanistan.