Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday said Pakistan needs to review the reasons that have led to a resurgence of terrorism over the past year.
Speaking with journalists in Islamabad, he said all policies related to international security and terrorism should be revisited, adding there was “nothing wrong” in admitting errors had been made in the past so they could be fixed. Referring to recent protests against terrorism in the erstwhile tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, he said Pakistanis had always rejected terrorism and supported peace.
“The people of Pakistan made these terrorists run away and they feel, right or wrong, that some terrorists are returning and are protesting, which is their right,” he said. “There is a need to re-calibrate our strategy for dealing with this issue in the context of the developments in the region,” he said, adding that “perhaps” it was time an in-camera internal review on these issues.
Noting that it was the government’s responsibility to “ensure peace, rule of law, and the writ of the state,” he said the country cannot afford to return to the “dangerous days” of terrorism.
To a question on whether conflict or peace talks were the only means of countering the Pakistani Taliban, he claimed he had a “different approach” than that adopted by the previous government.
Discussing the Taliban government of Afghanistan, Bhutto-Zardari said it must fulfill commitments with the international community regarding human rights, particularly girls’ education and preventing terrorist groups from operating from their country. “The world’s patience with Taliban is wearing out,” he warned. “But still, we will advocate engagement with Afghanistan while avoiding mistakes of the past,” he said, adding that Pakistan would not make any “solo” decision to recognize the Taliban government and would prefer to proceed with international consensus.
Addressing recent skirmishes along the Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan, he said Pakistan wished for peaceful ties despite the clashes.
There has been a significant surge in attacks claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan since September, when the banned group’s ceasefire with the Army ended. Most of the attacks have occurred in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, with a spokesman for the provincial government claiming it is the fault of “splinter” groups and not the core grouping of the TTP.
In his press interaction, the foreign minister said discussion on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s foreign conspiracy narrative should be brought to an end. “Khan sahib’s comment about American conspiracy exists. Khan himself accepts he took a U-turn. There neither was an American conspiracy nor is there one,” he said.