ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s previous “policy of appeasement” toward the Pakistani Taliban has been ended by the incumbent coalition government in the country, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday.
Bhutto-Zardari is in Davos with State Minister of Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar to attend the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting. The foreign minister will represent Pakistan and speak on regional challenges, climate disaster and other issues concerning his country.
As militant attacks in Pakistan surge once again, Islamabad has called on Kabul to rein in the TTP and thwarts its attempts to use Afghan soil to launch attacks against Pakistan. Kabul denies the allegations and has said it is doing its best to prevent the use of its soil for militant activities.
In a top security meeting earlier this month, Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership said in an indirect reference to Afghanistan that it would not allow any country to shelter militants. Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have also escalated over border skirmishes between the two countries earlier this month that claimed multiple civilian casualties.
Bhutto-Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has accused his political rival and former prime minister Imran Khan frequently in the past of being soft on the Pakistani Taliban.
“As far as the TTP is concerned, I believe the previous government has the wrong approach,” Bhutto-Zardari told Al-Jazeera in an interview. “Its policy of appeasement toward the [Pakistani] Taliban has created problems for the people of Pakistan. That approach has been ended by the new unity government,” he added.
The minister said Pakistan was disappointed with the decisions taken by the interim government in Afghanistan related to women’s education. However, he urged the world to engage with the country and not leave it high and dry.
“I think Pakistan’s leverage with the Taliban has by and large been exaggerated with the international community, in the past and up till this day,” he said.
“Having said that, we’re neighbors. We couldn’t separate if we wanted to and the only way to enhance leverage on both sides is to engage with them,” he added.
Bhutto-Zardari acknowledged the economic challenges facing Pakistan. However, he said Pakistan was not along in facing such challenges, adding that the world was also facing similar challenges. He said the climate catastrophe, couple with rising energy prices and inflation, made it “the perfect storm” in Pakistan.