Govt to review strategy after TTP calls off truce

The government is reviewing its strategy with regard to the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which called off the ceasefire agreed with Islamabad in June, as part of a deal brokered by the Afghan Taliban.

Official sources told The Express Tribune that there would be a “review” of Pakistan’s strategy following the TTP announcement earlier this week and spike in terrorist attacks. In June, the TTP announced an indefinite ceasefire after a series of meetings between the Pakistani representatives and the militant outfit in Afghanistan.

The talks were brokered by the Afghan Taliban regime, which had been resisting pressure from Pakistan to take action against the TTP and its affiliates operating out of the neighbouring country. But with the change of command and resurgence of TTP, the government will discuss all options to deal with the threat of militancy.

Since the new Army Chief General Asim Munir had headed both the Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during his career, therefore, he understood the dynamics of the TTP and Afghanistan, according to observers.

As the ISI DG, Gen Asim spearheaded initial efforts aimed at facilitating direct talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban. Given this background, the army chief is likely to give a crucial input to the government led by Prime Minister Shebhaz Sharif on the policy review on the TTP and Afghanistan.

A government official who deals with the issue told The Express Tribune that Pakistan’s patience with the Afghan Taliban regime was wearing thin as the TTP continued to pose a threat from across the border.

On Tuesday, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar led a Pakistani delegation on a day-long visit to Kabul. In an official handout, there was no specific mention of Pakistan’s concerns over the cross-border terrorist attacks.

But sources said this was one of the topics of discussions. Pakistan’s special envoy Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq was part of the delegation meaning the issue of the TTP must have come up for discussions. According to sources, it is possible the government may revisit the strategy to hold direct talks with the TTP.

Previously, the sources said, the government did not like a direct approach towards the TTP. In the Foreign Office, officials who were dealing with the matter were of the view that holding direct talks with the TTP was not a wise strategy. Ambassador Sadiq suggested talks with the TTP through the Afghan Taliban.

It is likely that given the resurgence of TTP attacks, Pakistan may close the door for talks and go for other options to neutralise the terrorist threat. Some observers feel that the TTP announcement to end the ceasefire may be a tactical move to get more concessions from Pakistan in the wake of a change of command.
The sources said that a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), the highest forum to discuss issues of national security and defence, will likely be convened to discuss the possible new strategy.

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