Pakistan raised Mujahideen and now they are terrorists, says Pakistan Interior Minister in National Assembly

The Pakistani Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for the January 30 mosque attack in Peshawar which left 100 people dead and over 220 injured

February 01, 2023 12:37 pm | Updated 07:21 pm IST - Islamabad

People visit the site of Monday’s suicide bombing after authorities finished the rescue operation, in Peshawar, Pakistan

People visit the site of Monday’s suicide bombing after authorities finished the rescue operation, in Peshawar, Pakistan | Photo Credit: AP

Days after Pakistan witnessed a deadly attack on its security forces inside a Peshawar mosque, the country's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah admitted inside the National Assembly that it was a collective mistake to prepare the mujahideen to go to war with a global force."

We did not need to make Mujahideen. We created Mujahideen and then they became terrorists," Mr. Sanaullah said while addressing the country's upper house of Parliament on January 31.

Also Read |Pakistan blames ‘security lapse’ for Peshawar mosque blast, 100 dead

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also speaking in the National Assembly said that the country's National Security Committee will decide on the operation against terrorists.

The Interior Minister also claimed that former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had released members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistani Taliban who were serving death sentences.

Mr. Sanaullah's remarks came after the proscribed TTP on Monday claimed responsibility for the January 30 mosque attack in Peshawar which left 100 people dead and over 220 injured.

The explosion occurred in the mosque's central hall on Monday at around 1 p.m. after a suicide bomber blew himself up.

Pakistan's Interior Minister admitted the belief that the TTP, formally called the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, is an umbrella organization of various Islamist armed militant groups operating along the Afghan-Pakistani border. would lay down their arms and submit to the law was mistaken, as per Geo News.

Inside Pakistan's National Assembly, there was a heated debate yesterday with members demanding major reforms to eradicate terror.

After the Peshawar mosque blast, a faction of the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack but hours later a TTP spokesperson tweeted distancing itself from the claim and said their policy does not include targeting mosques.

Also Read |Explained | What’s behind the Pakistani Taliban’s deadly insurgency?

Since November last year, terror attacks across Pakistan have been increasing after a peace deal between the TTP and the Pakistan government was called off by the proscribed group. The TTP was formed in the year 2007 by banding together several armed groups who protested against Pakistan's cooperation with the US in its war on terrorism. The TTP supported the Afghan Taliban's fight against the US and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Yesterday, in the National Assembly Pakistan Interior Minister Sanaullah stressed that it was incorrect to think that the TTP was separate from the Afghan Taliban. He said that the prior policy to resettle the Taliban could not bear fruit and led to the current situation in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Federal Minister said that the incumbent government has changed its approach towards the Taliban. He condemned the terrorist attack in the mosque in Peshawar's Police Lines and said that the suicide bomber aimed to target police personnel, Geo News reported.

Furthermore, Mr. Sanaullah said that outlawed TTP terrorists have found safe havens in a neighbouring country. He stressed that the development comes despite Afghan Taliban making an agreement with Pakistan and the international community that they would not permit their land to be used against any other nation, according to Geo News. He highlighted the need to hold talks with Afghanistan in order to stop terrorists from having safe shelters.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also speaking in the National Assembly blamed Afghan refugees for the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan.

He said that in the last 1.5 years around 4.5 lakh Afghans had entered Pakistan with valid documents but have not returned to Afghanistan. "Who is the terrorist among them, I cannot say anything about it," he said.

"When we were having a shortage of dollars, a truckload of dollars was sent to Afghanistan. We use to buy coal from them, they took Pakistani Rupees and bought dollars from here only and dollars sky-rocketed in Pakistan," he added.

Mr. Khawaja further stated that Afghan refugees are present even in the smaller cities of Pakistan and they are in millions.

"As per some reports, other than UNHCR reports, more than 1.5 million Afghan refugees are present in Pakistan," said Mr. Khawaja.

In total, around 5 million of them are residing in Pakistan and they are involved in many businesses in the country with transportation being the prime business, he added.

National committee to take charge

Meanwhile, speaking in the National Assembly yesterday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that a National Security Committee will decide on the operation against terrorists.

"The National Security Committee can decide on the operation against the terrorists," the Defence Minister said.

Khawaja Asif also said that there is a need to create a consensus like the Zarb-e-Azb operation against terrorism. Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, an offensive targeting various militant groups in North Waziristan, an area in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, in 2014 on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Defence Minister further stated that thousands of people were left without jobs after the Afghans came and settled in Pakistan, the Dawn report stated, adding that Asif also said the first proof surfaced when the people of Swat protested against the resettled people.

He noted that the people of Wana also protested and expressed similar emotions. "I am mentioning these incidents because of the tragedy that occurred yesterday [...] the terrorist was standing in the frontline during Zuhr prayers where he detonated himself," he said.

Mr. Asif said the Prime Minister and the army chief visited Peshawar where they were given a briefing on the attack. "But this is a tragedy where we require the same resolve and unity which was expressed in 2011-2012," the m=Minister said.

"I will not talk for long but I will say briefly that at the start, we sowed the seeds for terrorism," the Defence Minister said.

He said that when Russia invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan offered its services to the United States “on rent.”

“General Zia was the ruler at the time [...] the agreement made with the US went on for eight to nine years after which the US went back to Washington celebrating the fact that Russia was defeated,” he added.

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