Country had been training terrorists in past: Asif

by Aamir Saeed

ISLAMABAD: Unlike its past policies, Pakistan is now leading peace initiative to restore peace and harmony in the country and the whole region by putting an end to hostilities with the neighbours and proxy wars. Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said this on Wednesday following a terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.

“We have learned from our past mistakes and are now trying our best to restore peace in the region through dialogue with all neighbouring countries including India and Afghanistan,” he said. The minister said Pakistan’s foreign policy is also on the right track as “we have been successful in mitigating recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran through the effective foreign policy.”

A total peace in the region could be achieved only if all the countries stop interfering in each other’s internal affairs, he said, adding that “we should pursue a single point agenda to establish peace in the country.” He admitted that Pakistan had been running proxies in the past and it inflicted a heavy loss on the whole nation. “It is a complete reversal of our past policies and this will definitely help achieve peace in the whole region,” he said.

The minister also urged the clerics and religio-political leaders to put aside their vested interests for the sake of peace and harmony. “We want to see Pakistan a country that should be identified in the comity of nations as a symbol of peace instead of a hotbed for terrorism,” he said. Asif also admitted that Pakistan had been training terrorists, interfered in other countries as well in the past and the country has to pay a heavy price for it too. “Now it’s our collective responsibility to put aside our differences and move forward with a positive vision to establish peace.”

Terrorism is a state of mind and the terrorists come up with new names and brands to keep people horrified, he said, adding that the law enforcement agencies have been fighting against terrorists irrespective of their names and identities. The minister also eulogised sacrifices of law enforcement agencies and civilians in the war against terrorism. “We should pay tribute to our law enforces for making Pakistan relatively a safer place to live in,” he said.

Giving details about the terrorist attack on the university, he said that four terrorists were eliminated during the operation while 20 people were martyred and another 20 injured. Earlier speaking on the issue, Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai urged the government to take viable steps to restore peace in the whole region. “We can win the war of terrorism only if we put an end to our policy of supporting proxies in other countries,” he said.

He also termed the attack as a failure of intelligence agencies, urging the government to sack or suspend officials if they are found of negligence. “All powers of the world and all agencies of the world have started a proxy war in Pakistan and we should take intelligent steps to counter them all,” he warned. Speaking on the issue, former Prime Minister Mir Zafrullah Khan Jamali said that Pakistan has been weakening with the passage of time instead of getting stronger and this should be worrisome for the powers-to-be.

“Pakistan should first save itself from the terrorists, and then should worry about others (the neighbouring countries),” he said, urging the government to make the parliament strong and a source of policy-making against the issues like terrorism. Talking on the government, Jamali said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not find a permanent foreign minister in the three years and this is unfortunate. “You (the prime minister) should trust your people and there are many here intelligent enough to be appointed as the foreign minister,” he said. Earlier, members from the opposition parties urged the government to adjourn the session as a mark of respect to martyrs of the Charsadda University. Later, agenda of the day was suspended and the members were allowed to speak on the incident.

Source: Business Recorder