No talks with TTP on withdrawal of army from tribal area: Rana

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Says reversal of FATA merger impossible; No security threat to Imran

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Thursday said there was no possibility of discussion with the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on the withdrawal of the military from tribal areas near the Afghan border, and reversal of the Fata merger, explaining that such demands were against the Constitution.

The National Assembly had on May 24, 2018 passed a constitutional amendment, paving the way for the merger of the region formally known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In an interview, Sanaullah said the talks were possible with those willing to surrender arms.When asked about the strength of the TTP fighters, the minister said the “TTP fighting force” comprised 4,000 to 5,000 members. “The names associated with the APS (Army Public School) incident can never be considered for a pardon,” he explained.

He said that it was to be seen “what kind of people” would take part in the talks from the other side. If representatives of the political government in Afghanistan are in attendance, then politicians from our side will also participate in the discussion, he added. The minister said he did not believe the outcome of the talks would be visible in weeks. “It will take some months,” he said.

Sanaullah insisted that the civil and military leadership were on the same page that the TTP militants would not be allowed to take up arms. “Otherwise, we won’t shy away from the fight”. “The military leadership assured us that we have the capacity and the power to sort these issues out effectively,” the minister added. He said the involvement of foreign elements could not be ruled out in terror attacks in Pakistan, saying there were some forces behind the TTP that did not want peace in the country.

 

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