15 December 2022
By Rehan Piracha
LAHORE: Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra has said that the federal government will arm local peace militias to act as a bulwark against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan that has spiked attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The proscribed militant group called off a truce agreement with the government in June and ordered fighters to carry out attacks in the entire country. There has been a surge in TTP attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
However, the federal government appears in a conundrum on how to respond to the TTP attacks.
On Wednesday night, talking to journalist Munizae Jahangir on her Spotlight show, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, a senior leader from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said his party’s government in the Federation was taking all measures to ensure peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In a first, the residents of a village in Lakki Marwat have announced forming a ‘peace force’ (Aman Lashkar) to combat terrorism after a terrorist attack left six policemen dead. Lakki Marwat is one of the most volatile districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with North and South Waziristan.
“Aman Lashkars will be provided with weapons to strengthen their fight against terrorism,” Jhagra said in response to a question whether these local peace militias would be provided weapons by the government as done previously.
In the past, such government-supported local peace militias had failed to stem the TTP onslaught of targeted assassinations and terrorist attacks in the region.
In his view, the experiment of local peace militias failed to bear fruit because of the ‘interference of global forces’.
“The Taliban government in Kabul has the complete support of the Indian government,” Jhagra said, adding that New Delhi continued to support terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
The former governor said the federal government has also left the door open for the TTP to hold talks. “The TTP must realise that violence and terrorism would destroy itself too and they should desist from such acts,” Jhagra said.
Responding to a question that holding talks with the TTP would seem contradictory to local peace militias, Jhagra said negotiations for peace could only be held with a position of strength.
” We will be providing weapons and other assistance to Aman Lashkars so that they become a potent force against terrorists,” he added.
While claims by the government of ensuring peace in these restive regions have been made, no solid response has been made on how the TTP attacks will be responded to.