No talks with TTP, says FM

WASHINGTON: Accusing former prime minister Imran Khan’s government of following a policy of appeasement towards the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pa-kistan (TTP), Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the new leadership — both political and military — have ruled out talks with terror-ist organisations that don’t respect the country’s laws and constitution.
“I am confident that if we can work with the Afghan interim government, which has influence over these groups, we will be successful in maintain-ing our security,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum.
The foreign minister accused PTI chief Imran Khan of giving TTP a place to hide. He said that Khan not only released the TTP prisoners in Paki-stan’s custody but also engaged in dialogue with them.
“He [Khan] has always been ideologically sympathetic to their point of view,” the foreign minis-ter added.
In response to a question about whether Pakistan had hoped that the new Afghan government would act against the TTP, FM Bilawal said: “Our hope — and in fact, their agreement — was that their soil would not be used for terrorism.
We do hope to cooperate with them to deal with terrorists that are a concern to us.”
Echoing the sentiments of his recent condemnation of the attack on Kabul’s foreign ministry, he reiterated that both Pakistan and Afghanistan were victims of terrorism. The FM stressed that the two governments would have to work together to counter terrorism.
During the interview, Bilawal also touched upon the topic of his mother’s assassination and said that if former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, had lived, both Pakistan and the entire region would have been a completely different place.
He told the publication that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had always aimed for Pakistan to be a democratic country, which he termed as the “on-ly way” to deal with extremism and terrorism rampant in the country.
Also asked whether he could become prime minister this year, FM Bilawal said that he would have to win an election first.
“Obviously,” he added, “my party will be hoping that we win. The PPP has its own manifesto, and given the challenges that Pakistan faces, I believe that our manifesto speaks best to the country’s key problems, such as inflation and unemployment.
“However, I don’t believe that any one party will be able to solve all of Pakistan’s problems. If [our party wins the most votes], I will seek to form a government as prime minister and be willing to work in tandem with the other parties.” –Agencies