Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif came down hard on the “institutions and politicians” responsible for holding peace talks with terrorists. During a cabinet meeting he said, “Terrorism is rearing its head again, the question is who brought them back ?”
His remarks come days later following a suicide blast at a mosque in Peshawar that claimed at least 101 lives. The victims included mostly police officers.
The PM cautioned that the scourge could spread to other parts of the country if immediate steps were not taken. Over the past few months, terrorism has been resurging in the country, especially in KP and Balochistan.
The Pervasive concern
Addressing a meeting the premier said that citizens from Peshawar to Karachi had questions about the resurgence of terrorism in the country.
“Everyone is asking who brought them back. What happened? How can peace be destroyed? How can Khyber Pakhtunkhwa go back into the hands of terrorists?”
The burning issue
Criticizing the previous regime’s decision to enter into dialogue with militants and resettle them, he urged his cabinet to discuss this “burning issue” thoroughly.
The PM noted that whatever he said was already a public knowledge. Calling for introspection he asked, “Who said they have laid down their arms and will contribute to the country’s growth and development?”
A day earlier lawmakers in the National Assembly regretted the decision to enter into dialogue with militants and resettle them in the country during the previous PTI regime, calling it a “faulty” move which was “never endorsed” by parliament.
NFC Award for KP
The prime minister also refuted the allegations levelled by the former KP government regarding the unfair distribution of funds under the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award.
He shared that KP had received Rs417 billion since 2010 under the NFC Award. “The rest of the provinces gave them approximately Rs40bn every year.”
The PM noted that Rs417bn was a “huge amount”. Besides the PTI was ruling the province for the past 10 years. “Where did all this money go? How can they ask for more money? I’m stating facts and not blaming.”
The former CM KP Mahmood Khan last year in December had rebuked the PDM coalition for depriving their people of their rightful share by withholding funds.
In January, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had said it was impossible for the provincial police to counter TTP militants who were using US-made weaponry.
He said KP had sacrificed “more than other parts” of the country but the “money provided to them was to strictly build their counter-terrorism capabilities”.
“Be it for the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), buying ammunition, preparing new cadres, training, intelligence operations or satellites.”
PM Shehbaz termed it unacceptable for the former KP government to ask for more funds. “If you’re getting Rs40bn per year, you do not get to complain about the weaknesses of the CTD.
“Getting to hear that they don’t have guns, training, satellites, and then PTI crying over not having funds is a clear distortion of facts.”