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Pakistan to get tough with Taliban only as a last resort

Wednesday 18 December 2013, by siawi3


ISLAMABAD, December 18, 2013

Meena Menon

The Cabinet Committee on National Security on Tuesday reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the strategy of dialogue and negotiation with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and consider the use of other options only as a last resort.

It also discussed the issue of cross border terrorism and strengthening the Western border.

The committee dwelt upon the government’s strategy to engage various groups of Pakistani Taliban to address issues of extremism and militancy, an official statement said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired the meeting which focused on three key issues — the formulation of a National Security Strategy, a strategy on Internal Security and relations with Afghanistan.

It agreed that the economic development and prosperity of Pakistan depended upon ensuring security and stability of the country.

Members expressed unanimity on national security issues and agreed on a number of measures to enhance security on the western border to prevent cross border movement of militants from both sides, development of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and other border areas.

Mr. Sharif briefed the committee on his recent visit to Kabul. He said a number of steps were agreed to for political security and economic and commercial cooperation with Afghanistan.

The meeting comes after Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday announced that a new draft policy on national security was ready and it would be placed before the Cabinet committee.

Mr. Nisar said once it was approved by the Federal Cabinet, it would be placed in the public domain.

While keeping the dialogue option for dealing with terrorism, the Minister said the policy will be time-bound with an institutional and operational framework.

However, some part of the policy which deals with national security will remain a secret, he said.

If the dialogue process with terrorists doesn’t work well, the government did have the last option of an operation, he pointed out.

The policy has been prepared by the National Counter Terrorism Authority and aims to curb the funding of terror networks in the country.

Apart from a counter terrorism agenda, it plans to educate people through an awareness campaign on the true meaning of Islam.