Army rubbishes ‘exaggerated’ reports on TTP presence in Swat | The Express Tribune

Pakistan Army on Saturday dismissed reports regarding the presence of large numbers of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) armed members in Swat Valley.

“During the past few days, a misperception about the alleged presence of large number of proscribed organisation TTP’s armed members in Swat Valley has been created on social media,” milir=tary’s media, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a statement.

After confirmation on the ground, it added, the reports have been found as “grossly exaggerated and misleading”.

“Presence of small number of armed men on few mountain tops between Swat and Dir has been observed, located far away from population,” it added.

The ISPR said that apparently, these individuals sneaked in from Afghanistan to resettle in their native areas. “A close watch is being maintained on their limited presence and movement in mountains.”

Read more: K-P police allays fears about Swat

The statement further said that required measures are in place by all law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) for the safety and security of people of adjoining areas. “Presence of militants anywhere will not be tolerated and they will be dealt with full use of force if required,” it further said.

The Express Tribune earlier reported that the government was preparing a “contingency plan” to deal with potential resurgence of the outlawed TTP after reports suggesting the terrorist outfit was trying to make a comeback.

Although the government has been holding talks with the TTP for months to broker some kind of a deal, prospects of such an agreement are grim, sources familiar with the development said.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif expressed his apprehensions about the success of the talks, while Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq had admitted the peace process was at a ‘nascent stage’.

Also read: Govt cobbles up plan to tackle TTP resurgence

With reports of some Taliban fighters being seen in the Swat valley, the authorities concerned are preparing a ‘contingency plan’ to deal with the militant threat in case talks with the TTP collapsed.

Authorities have not closed the window of talks with the TTP, they are at the same time ready to deal with any eventuality.

Sources said the primary reason Pakistan entered into talks with the TTP was that the Afghan Taliban were reluctant to take any military action against the outfit.

Instead, the interim Afghan Taliban government was keen on Pakistan and the TTP to resolve their differences through talks.

Pakistan began negotiating with the TTP not out of choice but out of compulsion, according to the sources.

During one of the in-camera briefings given to the members of parliament, the military leadership had said talks were in an initial phase and any deal with the TTP would be strictly in accordance with the Constitution and law.

An oversight parliamentary committee was also set up to look into the negotiating process.

The peace talks began in October last year but picked up pace in April when there was a renewed push from the Afghan Taliban seeking a peace deal between Pakistan and the TTP.

A series of meetings with the TTP led to the indefinite ceasefire but differences on many contentious issues still persist.

One of the main stumbling blocks includes the TTP’s insistence on reversing the merger of erstwhile tribal areas with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. However, Pakistani negotiators term the demand as a red line as any changes have to be passed by the country’s parliament.

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