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Wednesday July 24, 2024

Thousands of TTP fighters given shelter, amnesty during PTI rule: minister

Former COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-DG ISI general Faiz Hamid dealt with TTP, says Khawaja Asif

By Azaz Syed
June 24, 2024
Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif attends a meeting in Moscow in this undated image. — AFP/File
Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif attends a meeting in Moscow in this undated image. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif Monday said that around 5,000-6,000 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters were brought back, given given shelter and amnesty during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) government.

"The army conducts an operation against terrorists, but the civilian government of this area does not fulfil its responsibility," the minister said while speaking to Geo News.

Asif further revealed that former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-Inter Services Intelligence director general Faiz Hamid dealt with the TTP and only gave a brief overview to them on the matter.

"They [former generals] painted a picture as if all was good in Swat," he said, adding that the politicians, most notably Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, had raised questions in the relevant briefing but were not allowed to speak much.

His remarks come after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led federal government, in light of increased terror incidents in recent months, announced launching a fresh anti-terror operation across the country titled "Azm-e-Istehkam".

The decision was made during a meeting of the Central Apex Committee on National Action Plan (NAP) which was attended by chief ministers of all provinces and GB, services chiefs, and chief secretaries of the provinces along with other senior civilian, military, and law enforcement agencies officers.

The operation will provision streamlining of multiple lines of effort to combat the menaces of extremism and terrorism in a comprehensive and decisive manner, read the statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

However, the Centre's move hasn't bode well with the PTI which constitutes the majority of the opposition benches in the National Assembly and has opposed the military operation, calling for the issue to be discussed before the parliament.

"The federal government should discuss this issue in the parliament before approving it. No Apex Committee is above this house," PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar said while speaking in the lower house on Sunday.

Commenting on his meetings with Afghan ministers and leaders, the defence minister said that he didn't feel any animosity or hostility against Pakistan during his interaction with the officials from the neighbouring country.

It is to be noted that Islamabad has time again called on Kabul's Taliban-led administration to prevent its soil from being used by various terrorist organisations against Pakistan — an allegation Kabul has denied.

Lamenting the country's history of being engaged in wars, Asif said: "General Zia ul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf fought wars to extend their rule. Gen Zia destroyed religion, social structure and society, took the money and became a part of the Afghan war [against Russia]."

"We should take account of ourselves as to why we became a part of two wars. Will our soldiers continue to pay the price of our wrong policies?" the minister noted.

Addressing the issue of mob lynching, he noted that people used blasphemy even in their personal enmity and stressed the need to stand up for the rights of minorities in the country.

"We tabled a resolution in the assembly against the incidents of minorities which was opposed by PTI," he said while referring to a resolution passed by the NA which called on the Centre and the provinces to ensure the complete safety of members of minor communities.

The resolution was tabled after a man was lynched to death in Swat over allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran.

Last month, a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of desecrating the Holy Quran and later died of his injuries in Sargodha, Punjab.

Meanwhile, over 90 Christian homes and 21 churches were vandalised when hundreds of people rioted through a Christian neighbourhood in Faisalabad's Jaranwala tehsil last year.