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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari speaking during an interview with Al Jazeera on January 18, 2023. — YouTube screengrab/Al Jazeera

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari censured Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for adopting a “wrong approach” towards the banned terrorist outfit Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) while serving as the prime minister.

PTI-led government’s policy of “appeasement” towards TTP created problems for the country, Bilawal said during an interview Al Jazeera. He, however, asserted that the incumbent government has put the PTI’s approach to an end.

Bilawal said that the federal government — in its National Security Meeting (NSC) with top political and military leadership — decided that it would “not tolerate” terrorist groups and violators of the law in Pakistan.

The country has seen an uptick in terror activities, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan since the end of the ceasefire with the government by outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last year in November.

The Pakistani Taliban, comprising of local fighters mostly, shares some ideological affinity with the neighbouring Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.

Islamabad has repeatedly said that Afghanistan’s soil is being used against Pakistan, however, Kabul denies the claims.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has also asked the government in Kabul — without naming it — not to provide safe havens to terrorist groups on its soil.

Despite the Afghan government’s ban on women from working in NGOs, the foreign minister reiterated the need to engage with the Taliban.

“The solution is to engage the Afghan government and try to convince them to live up to their promises to the international community whether it is to do with women’s rights or the issue of terrorism,” said Bilawal.

The PPP leader ruled out the possibility of disengaging, saying that it is not even an option for Pakistan as both countries share a long and porous border.

Talking about the attack on Pakistan’s Head of Mission to Kabul Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani, the foreign minister confirmed that he hasn’t called him back home.

“He was due back for some briefings and dialogues. I hope we will have the security necessary to send him soon,” he said.

Terrorism in 2022

According to the statistics released by an Islamabad-based think-tank, Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), the number of militant attacks increased by 44% in December compared to November 2022.

In December, the militants carried out 49 attacks in which 56 people were killed including 32 security forces personnel and 17 civilians.

In these attacks, 81 people also got injured including 31 security forces personnel and 50 civilians.

The report added that December saw the highest number of militant attacks in a single month in 2022.

The PICSS data also shows that the year 2022 saw a 28% increase in terror attacks compared with 2021 which is also the highest during the last five years.

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