ISLAMABAD: In an apparent attempt to shed its generally-perceived pro-Taliban image, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) “condemned the TTP and all other terror groups” on Sunday and extended its “total support” to the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies combating terrorism.
“The PTI condemns the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and all other terror groups that have unleashed their brutality on the people of Pakistan,” the party’s information secretary Dr Shireen Mazari told reporters after a meeting of its core committee.
According to sources, PTI chairman Imran Khan expressed his satisfaction over the progress made in the talks with the government on the issue of alleged rigging in last year’s general elections and gave a go-ahead to members of the negotiating team to strike a deal after settling some minor and technical issues.
The PTI committee also endorsed a 20-point draft of recommendations to be presented by the party to a committee preparing a national action plan to deal with terrorism.
Dr Mazari said the party had expressed deep grief over the brutal killing of children and staff of the Army Public School in Peshawar on Dec 16.
“In conveying its heartfelt condolence to the bereaved families, it notes that this barbaric act was unprecedented in Pakistan’s history and will live forever in our memory as a day of infamy. There can be absolutely no justification for this brutal act,” she said.
The party, she said, had expressed “its total support to the armed forces of Pakistan and other law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) for their endeavours to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from our land”.
She said the party leadership had also discussed in detail the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees.
Replying to a question, she said the issue of withdrawing resignations of PTI’s legislators and returning to the assemblies was not discussed.
She expressed the hope that the issue of formation of a judicial commission to investigate alleged rigging in the elections would soon be resolved and said that only one or two points needed to be sorted out by the negotiating teams.
Dr Mazari said her party would have no objection if the commission was formed through a presidential ordinance and expressed the hope that the court would not reject it.
Core committee endorses 20 recommendations for action plan against terrorism
Talking to Dawn, PTI MNA from Islamabad and a member of the party’s negotiating team, Asad Umar, said the core committee had been briefed on the progress made in the talks with the government. He said the committee had given them the mandate to finalise an agreement.
Mr Umar said the next meeting with the government team was expected on Monday or Tuesday.
Another senior PTI member, Dr Arif Alvi, said the committee had endorsed 20-point recommendations that the party would present to the committee preparing the national action plan to counter terrorism. He said he had sent the proposals to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
Giving an outline of the recommendations, he said a comprehensive plan was needed to fight terrorism that had been imposed on the peace-loving people and had endangered the entire country. Every point, he said, needed to be worked upon to work out a final strategy to combat terrorism.
He said the party wanted “a policy and timeframe for the return of the Afghan refugees to their country as they have become a burden on the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.
The PTI has called for better “coordination with the armed forces” and steps for a “counter-narrative to the justification of terrorist activities, particularly as and when religion is used”, according to the draft which Dr Alvi has posted on his personal website.
It stressed the need for ensuring that ‘madaris’ were not used for terrorism’s justification and indoctrination and as centres for such activities and called for integrating the seminaries into the national mainstream while preserving their focus on religious education.
The party said there was a need for a strategy to win hearts and minds of the people who were either coerced or volunteered to cooperate with the terrorists and provided them shelter and supplies.
It suggested development of a “rapid response strategy” and setting up of a “rapid response force for immediate punitive and preventive action, stating that “in the aftermath of the killing of schoolchildren, the people expect immediate retaliatory action”.
The party also wants improvement in “precision of action to limit innocent casualties”.
It said there was a need for strengthening intelligence and counter-surveillance for the armed forces and LEAs to keep an eye on terrorist networks and their proliferation. “This may require international and Afghan cooperation,” the draft said.
It demanded rehabilitation and reintegration of the displaced people as quickly as possible, saying “delay sets into motion other dynamics of frustration and dependence leading to a vicious cycle of resentment or permanent displacement”.
It called for steps for the rehabilitation of the victims of terrorism as well as those who surrendered, besides strengthening of conflict resolution mechanisms, including jirgas.
The document called for curtailment, through Pemra, of glorification of terrorism by the media and its justification. If needed, further legislation should be carried out for the purpose.
There should be a “comprehensive control of licensed and unlicensed weapons” and there must be “restriction on availability of arms and explosives as well as easily available ingredients used in the making of IEDs”, it said.
“All planning should look at the entire gamut of terrorism in Pakistan and should include misguided jihadism, sectarianism and ethnicity (in Karachi and interior Sindh), Kashmir jihad-related activity which morphs into fighters available for other activities and non-state actors based in Pakistan.”
The party also called for “performance enhancement of the LEAs, implementation of existing anti-terror legislations, including PPO, in a fair but effective manner, improvement in the efficiency of the judiciary, an effective witness protection programme and capacity-building of prosecuting agencies (with measurable metrics of success monitored yearly as to rates of conviction) and of forensics”.