Eminent author and journalist Ahmad Rashid on Thursday said that the Peshawar school attack last December which killed over 140 has brought a change of heart in Pakistan Army, the ISI, the government and political parties vis-a-vis war on terror.
Speaking at a penal discussion at the Jaipur Literary Festival, Rashid said that the threat from the Tehrik-e-Taliban is so acute and severe that Pakistan Army has been forced to rethink its strategy towards extremist groups which it has supported for decades. Others on the panel included Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, author Anatol Lieven who writes extensively on Pakistan and former Indian diplomat G Parthasarathy.
Rashid said that the Peshawar school attack has galvanised the Army, the government, and the political parties to come to one platform demanding action against extremists.
Talking about Lashkar-e-Toiba, and other anti-India extremist groups, Rashid said that the Pakistani government is considering a long-term plan to deal with them. He was also critical of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s policy of talking to the Taliban saying the PM wasted this time, implying the talks did not yield any result. Rashid, however, added that the Peshwar attack has changed the government’s attitude.
Talking about India’s concern on Jamat-ud-Dawah chief Hafeez Saeed holding public rallies in Pakistan and suspension of talks between both the countries, Rashid said India and Pakistan should resume dialogue soon. He asked India and Pakistan to duplicate the trust of Afghanistan and Pakistan in tackling terrorist organisations. He said sharing of intelligence between militaries of both the countries and the governments would improve their relations.
Rashid’s claim on Pakistan’s policy change towards Taliban and other extremists group was echoed by the former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and the Pakistan strategy observer Anatol.
Former Indian diplomat G Parthasarathy, however, said that no dialogue can take place until bullets stop flying from across the border.
He also demanded action against anti-India extremists groups like Haqqani network and LeT who are involved in terror activities against India.