Pakistan won’t tolerate TTP’s cross-border terrorism, reserves right for direct action: FM Bilawal

UNITED NATIONS: As Islamabad ups the ante with neighbouring Afghanistan’s interim government, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday said that Pakistan would not “tolerate” cross-border terrorism by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Addressing an event at the UN Headquarters to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar, the foreign minister said that the country “reserve(s) the right to take direct action” against terrorist groups backed by hostile quarters.

“Pakistan will not tolerate such cross-border terrorism by the TTP or other terrorist groups, like the BLA, which are also receiving financial and other support from hostile quarters. We reserve the right to take direct action against them,” he said .

Hosted by Pakistan, the event was held as part of the UN’s Office of Counter Terrorism’s “Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism” campaign.

Starting with a one-minute silence, the commemorative event brought together the UN member states, victims, experts, academics, civil society organisations and representatives of law enforcement agencies.


In his address, the foreign minister said that 132 children and eight teachers and staff at the school died and several others were injured in the APS Peshawar attack claimed by the so-called TTP, an entity listed as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and many member states.

“This terrorist attack was particularly heinous because the clear aim of the terrorists was to kill children. In this sense, it was a targeted attack designed to deal a grievous blow to the morale of the people of Pakistan.”


He told the gathering that instead, the shock of the APS massacre mobilised the Pakistani nation and motivated it to eliminate all terrorists from their soil as massive military operations were undertaken to cleanse the frontiers of the TTP and associated terrorist groups.

“Pakistan’s operations were successful. Our territory was cleared of terrorists. We paid a heavy price – 80,000 civilians and soldiers killed or injured and the economy set back by $120 billion,” he remarked.


However, FM Bilawal said unfortunately the TTP and some other terrorist groups found “safe havens” and even more frequent attacks have been conducted against Pakistan’s military and civilian targets.

He said that the brutal nature of the TTP, its callous targeting of children in the APS attack, and other crimes should also reinforce the world community’s determination to combat and defeat the TTP, along with other terrorist organisations, like ISIL-K, operating in Afghanistan.

He told the participants that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies had “solid proof” of financial and organisational support and direction provided to the TTP. “We have shared a comprehensive dossier with the Secretary-General and UNSC containing concrete evidence of such external support to the TTP and other terrorist groups operating against Pakistan.”

The foreign minister said Pakistan had expected that the new authorities in Kabul would be able to convince or constrain the TTP from conducting cross-border terrorist attacks against Pakistan as they had promised to do in the Doha agreement and in subsequent policy declarations.

“However, endeavours towards this end appear to have failed. The TTP seems to have been emboldened to declare a ‘war’ against Pakistan. Its attacks have intensified.”


He expressed the hope that the remembrance of the APS attack would serve to mobilise the UN’s counter-terrorism machinery to address the threat of terrorism, which presently emanated from Afghanistan and adjacent regions, in a comprehensive and effective manner.

“We need to eliminate the “safe havens” of these terrorists; to cut off the sources of their financing and sponsorship, and to target and hold accountable individuals and entities responsible for the terrorist attacks or for sponsoring and financing such attacks,” he commented, assuring Pakistan’s support to the UN and the international community in realising these objectives.

The foreign minister also read out the last words of APS Principal Tahira Qazi. “They are my children and I am their mother,” Bilawal quoted her as saying, adding that she uttered these words before being burnt alive by the terrorists in front of her pupils as she struggled to protect them. He also showed the picture of student Sher Shah Khattak, who sacrificed his life while trying to save his classmates.

The foreign minister told the gathering that he had also lost his mother, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in an attack carried out by the same terrorist organisation.

Deputy Under-Secretary-General and Representative of the UN Office of Counter Terrorism Raffi Gregorian said that the APS attack had shocked the world.

He said that there was no justification for attacking children particularly when they were there to learn, adding that the United Nations stood in solidarity with the victims and families whose lives were changed after the terror attacks.

Gregorian said that the UN took multiple measures for the rights of terror victims, like the observance of an annual day and adoption of two UN Assembly resolutions. He said that the member states needed to be more inclusive and make the victims’ associations part of the anti-terror efforts and strategies.

Among notable speakers included Ahmed Nawaz, a survivor of the APS terrorist attack and president of the Oxford Union, and Dr Fatima Ali Haider, a therapist whose husband and son were killed in sectarian violence in 2013. In the aftermath of the 2014 Peshawar APS massacre, Fatima co-founded The Grief Directory in 2015. Other speakers included Sallie Lynch, Consultant for Tuesday’s Children, and Muhammad Khalid Khan Khattak, Member-Policy on Counter Terrorism Extremism and Financial Terrorism of NACTA.

A short video was also played developed by the Pakistan mission. Brochures were distributed among the member states to apprise them of the horrific incident.

Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Ambassador Munir Akram gave his concluding remarks and thanked the member states for showing solidarity to the terror victims.


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