Tehreek-e-Taliban threatens to target top leaders of Pakistan’s major parties PML-N & PPP
Pakistani prime minister Shehbaz Sharif (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)
The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Wednesday (4) threatened to target top leaders of the two major political parties in the ruling coalition if they continued to support tough measures against the militants.
The TTP, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has warned prime minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — the two major parties of the ruling coalition.
“If these two parties remain firm on their position and continue to be slaves of the army, then action will be taken against their leading people,” a statement issued by the militant group said.
The group warned that “people should avoid getting close to such leading people.” It claimed that the TTP was only waging what it called “jihad” in Pakistan and “our target is the security agencies occupying the country”.
It especially warned Bilawal, whose mother former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a terrorist attack in 2007.
“Although Bilawal is still young, this poor man has not yet witnessed the state of war,” the statement said, adding that the PPP leader had declared an open war on TTP. The group also said that it had not taken action against any political party for a long time but “unfortunately…Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave the US the status of mother to quench the thirst of his mother’s love”.
The terrorist outfit also said that Prime Minister Sharif had committed the support of his entire party in the war against TTP to please the US.
The TTP spared the religious political parties, saying there is no scope for action against them in TTP’s policy. However, it said that “we also request you (religious parties) to refrain from activities against us.”
The warning comes just days after the civil-military leadership of the country met under the banner of the National Security Committee and vowed to show “zero tolerance” for terrorism in the country.
“NSC reiterated its resolve to have zero tolerance for terrorism in Pakistan and reaffirmed its determination to take on any and all entities that resort to violence. This will be dealt with full force of the state. Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of Pakistan’s territory,” said a statement issued by the prime minister’s office after the meeting.
Prime minister Sharif chaired the meeting while Bilawal, who had advocated a new policy against the rebels, also participated. The NSC is the highest body to finalize decisions about key security and strategic matters relating to national security.
The foreign minister earlier also opposed talks with the militants, saying the government would not follow the policy of appeasement. In November, the TTP called off an indefinite ceasefire agreed with the government in June and ordered its militants to carry out attacks on the security forces.
The TTP, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan. Pakistan had hoped that the Afghan Taliban after coming to power would stop the use of their soil against Pakistan by expelling the TTP operatives but they have apparently refused to do so at the cost of straining ties with Islamabad.
The TTP has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. In 2012, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was attacked by TTP. She suffered bullet injuries and was admitted to the Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar and then taken to London for further treatment. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai was a “Western-minded girl”.
In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban stormed the Army Public School (APS) in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 150 people, including 131 students. The attack sent shockwaves across the world, and was widely condemned.