Islamabad: Pakistan’s defence minister today warned the Pakistani Taliban that the government would be compelled to launch a full-scale military operation if the banned militant group violates the ceasefire.
Khawaja Asif’s warning came amidst reports that the army has decided to continue with targeted air strikes on Taliban bases in case of an attack on a military installation.
Asif said the government was seeking the army’s advice over the future course of action in the dialogue process.
Speaking to Geo News, Asif said the next phase of dialogue will be based on intelligence information provided by the army.
“The army will provide information on what options are available to the government,” he said.
The minister made it clear that the duration of the dialogue process cannot be indefinite and if there is no progress, the government will have to use the option of force.
“If the ceasefire is violated, the government will be left with no other option but to launch an operation,” he was quoted as saying.
On Monday, gunmen had attacked a courtroom in Islamabad, killing 11 people in the heart of the heavily guarded capital.
But the Pakistani Taliban denied any role in the attack and a splinter group claimed responsibility.
Dawn News reported that a meeting of the corps commanders, chaired by army chief Gen Raheel Sharif today decided that air strikes on militant hideouts would continue in the event of future attacks on military installations.
Asif stressed that the entire government machinery including the army is available for talks.
“It is the prime minister’s discretion to include anyone in the new committee,” he said. The four-member government committee, constituted to hold peace talks with the Taliban, will be replaced soon.
According to reports, a new committee would be formed consisting of ISI officials, representatives of the federal cabinet, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the governor to hold direct talks with the Taliban.
Asif said that the government was sincere in the dialogue process and he prayed for its success.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that government will conduct direct peace negotiations with the Taliban to make the process result oriented.
Winding up the debate on the National Internal Security Policy in the National Assembly last night, Khan had said the target is to start direct negotiations from next week.
He said a new government negotiating team is being constituted.
The minister said the committee would contact the Taliban to make parameters of the dialogue absolutely clear so as to remove the misconception that talks are taking place at the cost of the constitution or from a position of weakness.