ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, in reference to the government's decision to talk with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said that "negotiations will be carried out with only those who lay down their arms and recognise the Constitution", Geo News reported Monday
The minister, while commenting about the disarmament talks with the banned outfit during a press conference in Islamabad, said that the decision to hold talks was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
"Talks with the outlawed TTP is not in my knowledge," said Rasheed.
Responding to a question about Pandora Papers — which is a huge tranche of leaked data on offshore companies that is larger in size and scope than the Panama Papers and names 700 Pakistanis, including ministers, politicians, and businessmen — Rasheed said that PM Imran Khan has “shut everyone’s mouths” by pledging investigations against those named in the probe.
Earlier in the day, the premier had vowed to investigate “all citizens” named in Pandora Papers leaks.
“There is nothing new in Pandora Papers,” said Rasheed.
Moreover, while speaking about providing visas to Afghan citizens, Rasheed said that the online visa service for Afghanistan will be launched within three weeks.
“20,000 Afghan citizens have arrived in Pakistan since August 15,” said Rasheed.
He added that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been directed to launch a crackdown against the individuals involved in conning dollars. The FIA has also made some arrests, he added.
The minister also announced the addition of 10,000 personnel in the police department.
On Saturday, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said wars come to a halt through talks, a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed the government was in talks with the TTP.
Right before that, Chaudhry supported a "normal life" for militants associated with the banned outfit TTP, who wish to pledged loyalty to the state.
Chaudhry, in a video statement, said: "Peace-loving people who wish to follow the Constitution should be given a chance to get back to a normal life."
The information minister said the government seeks to move forward with the conditions laid down by the prime minister — who had called for the disarmament of the TTP.
Chaudhry said the state's policies are made in line with the situation at hand. "The people who could not fulfil their pledge of allegiance to Pakistan want to return to fulfil this pledge."
In Balochistan, more than 3,000 "disgruntled" people have come back to a normal life, who had fallen prey to India's conspiracies, the information minister said.
The information minister noted that the country had moved past tough times, sacrificed thousands of lives, and as a result, the state was able to "beat terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda".
On Friday, PM Imran Khan, speaking to TRT World’s Ali Mustafa in Islamabad, said that the government is in talks with "some" groups of the TTP for disarmament.
"I think some of the Pakistani Taliban groups actually want to talk to our government. You know, for some peace, for some reconciliation," the prime minister said.
When asked to confirm whether Pakistan is actually in talks with the TTP, the premier clarified to say that talks are ongoing "with some of them".
He said that the Afghan Taliban are "helping", in the sense that the talks are taking place in Afghanistan.
The premier said that these talks, for disarmament, if successful, will lead to the government "forgiving" them, "and then they [will] become normal citizens".
Following the premier's comments, the outlawed group, in a statement, announced a cessation in hostilities between TTP militants in South Waziristan and the army.
Our leaders have asked all fighters to observe a ceasefire from today to October 20, the TTP statement said.
The TTP said that their leaders are engaged in some "secret talks", without elaborating any further.
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