ISLAMABAD: A day after a top general was killed in a Taliban bombing, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today said militants cannot coerce Pakistan into accepting their terms as the military has the “will to take the fight to the terrorists”.
“While it is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process, but no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms,” he said in an apparent reference to the PML-N government’s plans to hold talks with the Taliban.
Maj Gen Khan, the commander of an army division in the erstwhile Taliban stronghold of Swat, Lt Col Tauseef Ahmad and a soldier were killed yesterday in an IED attack by the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Pakistan’s political parties had last week endorsed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plan to hold peace talks with the Taliban and other militants groups who have killed nearly 40,000 people, including several thousand security personnel, over the past seven years.
Kayani reiterated the army’s “resolve and unflinching commitment in fighting the menace of terrorism, in accordance with the will of the nation and at any cost”, according to a statement issued by the military.
He vowed to “spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators of these cowardly acts of terrorism to justice”. Reaffirming the army’s support to the political process, Kayani said “unequivocally that terrorists will not be allowed to take advantage of it”. Analysts and security experts have criticised the government’s plan to hold talks with the Taliban, saying it will give militants an opportunity to regroup and strengthen their position.
The Taliban have demanded the release of over 4,000 detained militants and the withdrawal of the army from the northwest and tribal areas as pre-conditions for talks.
Maj General Khan was visiting his troops on the Afghanistan border when his convoy was targeted. He stayed with his troops at a 10,000-foot-high border post on Saturday night and his vehicle was attacked while he was travelling back to Swat.
Kayani said the attack on Khan was the most “most heinous” of the four terrorist incidents in which security personnel were killed over the past two days.
Late on night September 14, one personnel of the Khasadar militia was killed and four more were injured when militants attacked a patrol party near Bannu in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Early on September 15, a soldier and a paramilitary personnel were killed when two army posts located on the Miranshah-Mir Ali road in the tribal belt were targeted with IEDs. Two soldiers were injured in this attack. Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, in a message addressed to Kayani, expressed his deep condolences at the death of Maj Gen Khan.
Aziz expressed his conviction that the sacrifices made by the Pakistan Army and law enforcement authorities will strengthen the resolve of the country to defeat extremism and terrorism, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office. -PTI