Bilawal rules out any talks with TTP
Says Pakistan will work with Taliban govt of Afghanistan to maintain security
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Accusing government of former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan of following a policy of appeasement towards Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that Pakistan’s new leadership, both political and military, will have no talks with terrorist organizations 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 maintaining our security,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post’s senior Associate Editor, Lally Weymouth, in Davos, Switzerland where he is attending the World Economic Forum.
The foreign minister said Imran Khan gave TTP a place to hide, not only did he release their prisoners who were in Pakistan’s custody, but also engaged in a dialogue with them. “He (Imran Khan) has always been ideologically sympathetic to their point of view,” he added.
To a question 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.
“We are both victims of terrorism. I don’t believe that the Afghanistan government will be successful on their own against terrorism, and neither will we be successful on our own against terrorism. We have to work together.”
Responding to question, he agreed that if Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, had lived not only Pakistan would have been a different place, but the region would have gone in a different direction. “The entire purpose of the Pakistan People’s Party has been for Pakistan to be a democratic country. We believe that democracy is the only way to take on extremism and terrorism.”
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. My party 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 have a coalition.”