TTP warn PM, FM of ‘concrete action’

-Ask religious parties to take distance from Federal govt’s decisions against the terror faction
-Interior Minister assures Nation steps being taken to ensure peace
-US says Pakistan ‘has right to defend itself from terrorism’
-TTP’s threats come days after two Sessions of NSC agreed over ‘response with full force’ to eliminate terrorism

By Anzal Amin

ISLAMABAD: Outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has warned the country’s main ruling parties of “concrete action” against their top leadership in the government for “declaring war” against it, foreign media reported citing TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani.
A statement released by the TTP on Wednesday explicitly named Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “For a long time, TTP has not taken any action against political parties,” TTP Spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said in a video statement.
“[But] if these two parties remain firm on their position then action will be taken against the leaders of these parties. People should avoid going near them,” it said, adding that “[Our] target is Pakistan’s security forces who are acting against the country’s interest upon wishes of the West”.
Amid an uptick in terrorist activity in the country, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday assured the nation that the government was taking steps to counter terrorism.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad yesterday, Sanaullah said the state’s efforts against terrorism could not be publicised as it would compromise its success. “But this should not be taken to mean that nothing is being done,” the minister said, adding that tremendous efforts against terrorism were underway and the nation should rest assured about the matter.
Commenting on the recent meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), he said that the forum had resolved to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy against terrorism with “no mixed messages and no differentiation between good or bad terrorists”. “Whoever is involved in terrorism is a terrorist,” he asserted.
Sanaullah further said that authorities would take pre-emptive action against terrorist schemes and those involved would be apprehended in order to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place. He said that the NSC had also decided that the provincial counterterrorism departments (CTDs) would be provided training by the federal government in order to make them more effective. The minister said that the forum had also discussed setting up of a national body for coordinating with the various CTDs in an effort to make them more efficient.
During the press conference, the minister was also asked about the recent remarks from the Afghan Taliban and the explicit threat issued by the TTP to the PPP and the PML-N for “openly declaring war against the TTP to appease America”.
The TTP statement pointedly mentioned PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif by name, as well as their respective parties, and warned religious parties against “activities against us”.
“I never said that we want to attack Afghanistan or someone there,” Sanaullah said. However, as stated before, if any terrorist is planning to attack Pakistan or stage a terrorist attack then, as part of international law, “we can and should engage”.
Sanaullah said the NSC meeting had concretely decided that talks about any concerns or issues would only be held with the Afghan government. Regarding the threat issued by the TTP, he said that a “general threat” was present and the government was already taking the necessary precautions.
The TTP threat came two days after Pakistan’s top security body, the National Security Committee (NSC), announced its resolve to have “zero tolerance for terrorism” in Pakistan and “reaffirmed its determination to take on any and all entities that resort to violence”.
Meanwhile, The United States has thrown its weight behind the counter-terrorism decisions taken by NSC in its recent meeting, saying “Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism”.
“The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism,” White House Spokesman Ned Price said in response to a question.
He said that the [Afghan] Taliban must uphold the very commitment they had made that their soil would never be used as a launchpad for international terrorist attacks. “These are among the very commitments that the Taliban have been unable or unwilling to fulfil to date,” he added.