ISLAMABAD: Opposition leaders and a representative of the Taliban negotiating committee have expressed displeasure over the remarks of Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif that a military operation can be launched against militants in the current month if they violate the ceasefire.
Maulana Samiul Haq, who is representing the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in peace talks with the government, urged the defence minister to avoid giving statements that may spoil the dialogue process. “His [Asif’s] leader [Nawaz Sharif] is talking about negotiations while the defence minister is warning of a military operation,” the maulana regretted.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said that even “cabinet members are not on the same page on the issue of the Taliban”.
Mr Asif in an interview to a foreign news agency on Friday said a full-scale military operation could be launched against the Taliban in the tribal areas as early as this month, warning insurgents against violating a ceasefire they announced last week.
Senator Raza Rabbani of PPP demanded that an in-camera session of parliament should be called so that parliamentary parties could be taken into confidence on the government-Taliban talks or any other decision taken by the government on the issue.
When contacted, Special Adviser to Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui, who heads the government’s committee in talks with the TTP, told Dawn that Maulana Sami had not yet informed the government when the Taliban’s committee would go to the tribal areas to convey to the TTP leaders Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s demand that Taliban should not only disassociate themselves from splinter groups who had carried out recent terrorist attacks but also condemn such assaults and expose such groups.