‘Pak army capable of ending militancy’
Sat, 12 Oct 2013 14:16:41 GMT
Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani says the country’s powerful military is capable of effectively using force against the Taliban.
General Kayani also dismissed speculations that the failure of counter-militancy operations has forced the military to go for dialogue with the militant groups operating across the violence-wracked country.
“This is far from being a truth,” the military chief said while addressing a passing out parade of cadets at a military academy on Saturday.
He pointed to the successful 2009 military operations in the northwestern valley of Swat, which was cleansed of terrorists within four months.
General Kayani noted that although the military supports peace talks, it is capable of effectively using force against anti-state Taliban militants as “a last resort.”
“The military will be more than happy if a solution to the problem is found through dialogue,” he said, adding that the use of force would be the last option.
The army chief stated that terrorists would not be allowed to take advantage of the military’s support for the political process, which has been initiated by Premier Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif has been an advocate of peace talks with the pro-Taliban militants since his election campaign, which ended in his May victory.
Sartaj Aziz, chief adviser to Premier Sharif on national security, had recently said that Islamabad was still keen on talks with the militants despite the ongoing violent attacks.
The developments come after Sharif called for peace talks with the pro-Taliban militant groups in a televised speech in mid-August.
“I would like to take a step forward and invite those elements for dialogue who have unfortunately taken the path of extremism,” Sharif said, adding, “Like every Pakistani, I want to put an end to this bloodshed as soon as possible, whether this is done through mutual understanding at the negotiating table or the use of fully-fledged state force.”
The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said the Islamabad government must release militant prisoners and withdraw troops from the group’s tribal sanctuary ahead of any sustainable peace agreement.
General Kayani has repeatedly said the militants cannot “coerce” Islamabad into accepting their terms in the government-initiated peace process.
The militants in Pakistan have carried out numerous attacks against security forces as well as civilians, and managed to spread their influence in various regions of the country, despite frequent offensives by the Pakistani Army.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001 when Pakistan entered an alliance with the United States on the so-called war against terrorism.