Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Saturday warned the Pakistan government against suspending the peace process with the outlawed Taliban, saying the failure of talks will only lead to military operations.
“First give peace a chance, otherwise a military operation is the ultimate choice,” the head of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party told reporters in Lahore.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told me that there are less than 40 per cent chances of success, if we launch a military operation in North Waziristan,” he claimed.
Mr. Khan said military operations had never been an option to deal with any issue. A majority of Pakistanis are in favour of peace talks with the Taliban, he claimed.
However, government officials denied that Mr. Sharif had quoted the army chief in Mr. Khan’s presence as saying that there are less than 40 per cent chances of success if a military operation is launched against militants.
State negotiators and a Taliban-appointed committee have held preliminary talks aimed at ending a nearly decade-old insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
Mr. Khan suggested that the government should spend money in the tribal belt and reconcile with people.
“If it launches (a military) operation, terrorism will not end at the end of the day. The children of those killed in the operation will pick up guns and there will be more terrorism in the country,” he said.
“And eventually there will be peace talks again,” he said.
History showed military operations had never succeeded anywhere in Pakistan, he added.
“Pakistan has been in this war for the last 10 years. The Pakistan People’s Party, Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which are critical of peace talks, should have launched a military operation during their previous government,” he said.
Replying to a question, Mr. Khan said the government had violated a court’s order by appointing journalist Najam Sethi as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
He alleged Mr. Sethi, as caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab province, was involved in rigging polls in May last year and had been “rewarded for this”.
Mr. Khan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against “massive rigging” in Punjab during the elections.
Mr. Sethi told a TV news channel that he was ready to “commit suicide” if Mr. Khan proved his involvement in rigging. He said would serve a legal notice on Mr. Khan for his baseless allegations.