Opposition Parties Demand the Government to take Parliament in to Confidence over Terms of Engagement with TTP

October 04, 2021

Opposition parties on Sunday demanded that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government take the parliament into confidence over the terms of engagements with the banned terrorist outfit, rejecting Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “unilateral” decision to grant amnesty to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and cabinet members’ “inconsistent” statements on the issue.Parliamentarians from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have expressed their displeasure with the government’s decision to keep the talks with the TTP secret.

PPP vice president and Senate parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman asked in a statement that What political solutions he (the PM) wishes to pursue with the so-called “good Taliban” must be clarified, as do the questions raised by the unprecedented number of civilians and soldiers sacrificed while we fought terrorist groups to the tune of 80,000 lives.

Ms. Rehman stated that foreign and security policy, which only worked in the context of national unity, was now routinely subjected to unilateral and contradictory pronouncements by cabinet members, exposing the country to questions at home and harsh criticism at international forums.Ms. Rehman, who also chairs the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, expressed regret that, while one minister suggested that the TTP was working with terrorist groups nurtured in India against Pakistan, another suggested that they could possibly disarm and rehabilitate them (TTP militants) if they renounced violence.

She claimed that the prime minister himself revealed changes in Pakistan’s policy toward the TTP on a foreign TV channel rather than in parliament.Ms. Rehman’s statement came a day after federal Minister of Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, defending the government’s decision to offer amnesty to the TTP, stated that the offer was only for “good Taliban” and that talks were taking place at thehighest level.

Without elaborating on the “highest level,” the minister told reporters in Karachi on Saturday that the offer was not for militants responsible for bloodshed in the country, citing the December 2014 massacre at Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS), which killed 140-plus schoolchildren, the principal, teachers, and other staff members.In a significant development, Prime Minister Imran Khan offered amnesty to the TTP in an interview with a Turkish TV channel on Friday, revealing that the government was holding talks with some groups of the terror outfit seeking reconciliation.

“Risks to Pakistan arise not only from a volatile region and global transitions that pose challenges, but also from the current government’s refusal to democratize policy-making and inability to forge unity in parliament at a time of growing challenges to the country,” Ms. Rehman said.

PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui said in a statement that it was “unfair” to keep negotiations with the TTP secret, and that the offer of amnesty to the TTP without taking the nation and parliament into confidence had raised many questions.He recalled that before negotiating with the TTP in 2014, then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif had enlisted the support of all political parties and announced the formation of a committee for that purpose in parliament.Mr. Siddiqui demanded that the government notify all political parties before entering into negotiations with the TTP, claiming that Pakistan had already paid a high price for such secret talks.

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