- PTI chief says KP govt to surely suspend NATO supply lines unless end to drone strikes guaranteed
- All efforts for talks destroyed by drone attacks
- Questions whether US a friend or an enemy
- Unity, not beggary, to make Pakistanis a nation
- Nisar says prospects of dialogue with militants no longer possible
Taking yet another staunch stance, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday announced to extend the deadline for blocking NATO supply lines across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KP) for 15 days in respect of Moharram, asking the US administration to stop drone strikes inside Pakistan or deal with the blockade of supply lines.
In passionate speech in the NA, Khan said the KP government would suspend the supply line on November 20, urging Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to seek guarantee from America that no drone strike would jeopardise future peace talks with the Taliban.
Some PML-N leaders, however, termed the change in mood of Khan and the postponement of deadline to cut NATO supply line a result of backchannel contacts with Khan by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan. They said Nisar had saved Khan and his party’s government from a head-on clash and tensions would decline as peace talks may soon be “back on track”.
Khan said there were bleak or no chances for peace and that the US strike had almost destroyed the prospects for that.
“Did they only have to kill Mehsud when there was a chance of peace? Does this mean the US will not allow peace in Pakistan?” he argued, stating that the nation stood at a “defining moment for Pakistan”, and despite that chances of peace looked bleak.
He, however, said joint efforts could still yield results.
Khan made it clear that he well understood the situation and had no “intention” of going to war with the US. However, he argued that a united nation could convince the Americans to respect the sovereignty of his country.
He said the drone strike on Mehsud on the eve of the start of talks had actually killed the peace process. “Now who remove the mistrust and convince the Taliban to come to the table?”
The PTI chief called for unity among the political leadership of the country to face the challenge to its sovereignty.
“We will have to stand united and tell the US that you have destroyed a chance for peace in Pakistan, and we take a united stand on this … We have been condemning (drone) strikes for nine years. Mere condemnation will not change anything. We will have to send a strong message,” Khan said.
The PTI chief, once known for his arrogance, even went to the extent to offer his services to unite the political leadership and said he was ready to go and meet everyone to bring the nation on one page for peace by putting all differences aside.
“I am ready to go to everyone, even to Maulana Fazlur Rehman, with whom my relations have not been good for some time.”
Khan added that visiting the US each time and begging for dollars would never help Pakistan get rid of the “slave mindset”, as masters never took slaves seriously.
“Beggars don’t become a nation, only unity can make us a nation,” he asserted, adding that if it did not work, Pakistan should use its options of stopping the NATO supply line and going to the United Nations Security Council against drone strikes.
Imran looked impressed with the efforts made by Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan for the success of the peace process.
“All efforts were made by Nisar and we got to the point of talks, but then that peace jirga was struck. So I ask, is US our friend or enemy?” Khan said.
“Whatever the interior minister does now, it will be extremely difficult for any new TTP chief to come back to the table for talks.”
Earlier, Nisar updated the House on the government’s efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban and hurdles being created in doing so. He again termed the US drone attack, that killed the TTP leader on Friday, “a conspiracy to derail peace process”.
The minister, however, vowed to continue with efforts for holding peace talks with the Taliban. “This would only be possible after the militant outfit chooses a new chief,” he added.
Lamenting that a larger conspiracy was aimed at disrupting talks with the Taliban, Nisar said prospects of dialogue with the militants was “unfortunately” no longer possible.
He said the team formed to initiate the dialogue was meant to set off to meet the TTP a day prior the drone strike. Nisar commended all political parties for uniting to pursue peace talks and exhibiting patience despite the ongoing attacks.
He said evidence had been gathered for the Qissa Khawani attack, the Peshawar church attack and the killing of Major General Sanaullah Niazi, adding that the timing of these acts of terrorism was suspicious.
He also thanked the army for going an “extra mile” to protect the peace dialogue, despite the grave security situation that was developing.