ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday the federal government would extend “maximum support” in strengthening the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and police force of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, whose capital city of Peshawar was hit this week by one of the deadliest suicide bombings the region has seen.
The PM’s remarks came as Pakistani police investigate how a suicide bomber reached a mosque inside a highly fortified police compound and killed 101 people, mostly policemen. The provincial police chief has said the attacker disguised himself in a police uniform and did not raise suspicion among guards before he carried out the attack.
There has been a rise in terror attacks in Pakistan since November last year, when the Pakistani Taliban unilaterally called off a fragile truce deal brokered with the government.
Speaking at a meeting of top government and military officials in Peshawar to discuss steps to eradicate militancy, Sharif said the “capacity-building” of security departments in KP province was needed given that it had, like the rest of the country, seen a rise in attacks.
“The federal government would extend maximum support in strengthening the Counter Terrorism Department and police of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to help it better fight terrorism,” Sharif said.
“I understand that federation and provinces, leadership of all parties, religious leaders should take ownership, come together and fight it (militancy), putting aside their differences, be it political, regional or relating to any school of thought,” the PM added. “I have no doubt in it that despite this major setback, God willing, we will overcome this… it was a terrorism incident and to crush it, we will have to move forward without wasting time.”
On Thursday, Sharif invited all political parties and leaders, including his rival and predecessor, ex-premier Imran Khan, to an All Parties Conference to be held on February 7, on the country’s “national challenges.”
Among the key challenges is how to deal with the Pakistani Taliban, also called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has recently increased attacks on the police and army as part of its campaign against the government in Islamabad.
The TTP has denied responsibility for the Peshawar mosque attack, which no group has claimed so far. Provincial Police Chief Moazzam Jah Ansari told reporters earlier this week he suspected a breakaway faction of the TTP, called Jamat-ul-Ahrar, was involved.