Govt plans tit for Taliban’s tat

* Security forces authorised to ‘teach lesson’ to Taliban involved in terrorist activities * Insurgents who want to shun violence asked to isolate and surrender themselves * Govt says peace committee formed by govt still exists, only dialogue process has halted
Govt plans tit for Taliban’s tat

ISLAMABAD: In a clear sign of losing patience, the government on Thursday said it has authorised the army to give a ‘befitting reply’ in their defence to the terrorists – though it stopped short of formally announcing an operation against Taliban following peace talks launched by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on January 29 floundered over killing of 23 FC soldiers kidnapped in 2010.
“We cannot take away the right of self-defence from our security forces. They will not hesitate to take action in self-defence if they come under attack,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference. Information Minister Parvaiz Rashid said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the security forces to give a ‘befitting reply’ in their defence to the terrorists. “They will be paid back in their own coin. Our forces have every right to defend themselves and respond to terrorists with full might,” he said, and added that dialogue and terrorism could not go hand-in-hand.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also maintained that security forces had been authorised to retaliate in the strongest terms to the heinous acts carried out by the terrorists. Pakistani Air Force jets pounded Taliban hideouts in Mir Ali, Shawal and Datta Khel areas and killed around 40 suspected terrorists. The airstrikes continued for the second day running on Thursday, however it wasn’t immediately clear whether the attacks were the precursor of a wide-scale military operation in the troubled areas.
Nisar said, after consultations with the dialogue committee and the military leadership, the prime minister had decided that peace process could not continue in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks, especially the slaying of 23 FC soldiers. “If negotiations continued even in the current scenario, it would have been a great injustice with the innocent civilians and security personnel killed in the terrorist attacks,” the minister said.
He said the prime minister in his address to the National Assembly had made it clear that violence and dialogue process could not continue at the same time. He said the committee nominated by the government for the peace talks had also set the same condition for any tangible progress on the issue.
Nisar said there had been no military operation against terrorists since last September. “So, what kind of ceasefire they want?” he asked. He said it was regretful that terrorist attacks continued despite sincerity and open heartedness of the government. He said the prime minister launched his efforts for evolving a national consensus to bring peace to the country. An all-parties conference was convened in September and dialogue process was started following the recommendations of the conference, he said. 
The first attempt to negotiate peace was sabotaged by the US with a drone attack, he said, and added that government launched the second bid for resolution of the issue and made contacts with the other side through a dialogue committee. Though Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) agreed for talks but the terrorist attacks continued unabated, he added. Despite empowering the security forces to retaliate to any terrorist acts with ‘full might’, the government has kept the doors for talks open. “Our doors are open for those who believe in peace and dialogue and want to shun the path of violence,” Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said. 
“Those Taliban groups who are willing for dialogue should isolate themselves from those involved in terrorist activities and violence,” the minister said, and added that the government was willing to talk to those who surrender themselves and accept writ of the government. Interior Minister Ch Nisar also hoped that the option of dialogue was still available. “I still think that there are clear indications that the dialogue process will be on track again. I am very hopeful.” He said the peace committee formed by the government still existed and only the dialogue process had halted. He said talks were the only option to achieve peace and those who were talking about military operation did not undertake it when they were in government.

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