- COAS Kayani vows not to bow to terms of terrorists
- Reiterates army’s resolve to fighting menace of terror at any cost
- Supports political dialogue, but won’t allow terrorists to take advantage
- Analyst says Taliban attacks won’t hamper peace efforts
In his firm response to the string of terrorist attacks targeted at top military officers claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the past two days, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani on Monday warned the terrorists that the army would not bow down to their terms, adding that the military had the ability and the will to take the fight with the terrorists to its logical end.
In four successive terrorist attacks during the past two days, as many as five army men have embraced martyrdom, including Malakand Division General Officer Commanding (GoC) Major General Sanaullah Khan and Lt Colonel Tauseef Ahmad.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted Kayani reiterating Pakistan Army’s resolve and unflinching commitment in fighting the menace of terrorism in accordance with the will of the nation and at all costs.
He vowed to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators of the cowardly acts of terrorism to justice. Reaffirming army’s support to the political process agreed upon during the recently convened all-parties conference, the COAS said unequivocally that terrorists would not be allowed to take advantage of it.
“He (Gen Kayani) emphasised again that while it is understandable to give peace a chance through a political process, no one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their terms. Army has the ability and the will to take the fight to the terrorists,” the statement said.
The COAS paid rich tribute to the exemplary courage, total commitment to duty and the demonstration of highest leadership qualities by Major General Sanaullah Khan. The GOC, he added, set a towering example of leading from the front that was hallmark of leadership in Pakistan Army.
Acknowledging Maj Gen Khan’s ultimate sacrifice for the motherland, the COAS said, “We salute his bravery”.
He also pledged to stand with the families of the martyred and injured. “The Pakistani Nation and army will remain indebted to the sacrifices of their soldiers,” he added.
Noted defence analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said that the successive attacks by Taliban against top military officers and putting strings to the government’s dialogue offer had narrowed down the options with the government. However, he added, the attack may not hamper the dialogue process.
“It’s a welcome sign that the army chief has reiterated his resolve to give a chance to peace process initiated by the civilian leadership despite killings of top military men. However, the warning by the COAS is reflective of the fact that more terrorist attacks against army men may jeopardise the peace process,” Rizvi said.
“The COAS also spoke his mind about the chances of success of a dialogue with the TTP. But General Kayani has resolved to take fight against terrorists to its logic conclusion which reflects the army’s resolve that the primacy of the state of Pakistan should be accepted and that the army would not bow to the terms of the terrorists,” he added.
He said that the statement of the army chief following the assassination of the GOC was natural. But despite the death of the army officers and jawans, the army had observed restraint and it would not subvert the dialogue process initiated by the government following the consensus decision by the political leadership in the APC.
“The army’s reservations and concerns have come true even before the start of the peace process. It’s all happening for what the government had been told in advance by the army. Now the civilian government would have to deliver the goods in dialogue process or it would be discredited totally.”
He said that the government’s all-parties conference (APC) did not mention a single word about preconditions for talks with the TTP, but the militants not only put strings to the offer, but also targeted army’s top commanders.
“It reflects that the Taliban have full confidence and they feel no need for talking to the government. While the civilian government is shaky and now has limited space and limited options,” he asserted.
Analyst on security affairs, Amir Rana, termed COAS’s statement a rational move, stating that it would help reinforce the impression amongst a section of society that the state was going to withdraw from its writ.
“I don’t think that this (statement) reflects that the army and the (civilian) government are on different page vis-à-vis talks with Taliban are concerned. This (peace) process would continue simultaneously,” he asserted.
Rana said one should not have had high hopes from the peace process.
“Despite talks’ process, the state should not look weaker. There was an impression among a section of the society that the Taliban had been given some concessions. This statement would diffuse this perception and it reflects the fact that the state is committed to its obligations. Moreover, since the peace process is yet to start, one should also not be disappointed and jumping to conclusions would be wrong,” he added.