Islamabad: Pakistan has said it will not back off from military offensive against militants in North Waziristan in the aftermath of the terror attack at a school in Peshawar that left 141 people, mostly children, dead.
"We are undeterred, we will not back off," Defence Minister Khwaja Asif told the CNN in a telephonic interview.
"Absolutely. Absolutely. There is absolutely no doubt about it," he said when asked if the Taliban and the jihadist group is the biggest threat to Pakistan.
"The Taliban are extremists, the terrorists. They are the biggest threat to the peace in this region, to peace in Pakistan, to the existence of Pakistan. We don't classify between different groups of Taliban that there are good Taliban and bad Taliban. They are all bad," Asif said.
Pakistan, he asserted, has been on the front line in the war against terrorism and this needs to be recognised by the world, in particular the Western countries.
"At this incident, even the children are dying on the front line in war against terror. These children are mostly the children of our service men, our officers, our soldiers. It's not only that the service men who are dying in this war against terror, it's civilians, their children," he said.
As many as 141 people, nearly all of them school children, were massacred yesterday when heavily armed Taliban suicide bombers stormed an army-run school in Peshawar, firing indiscriminately, leaving another 130 injured.
Asif asserted that the civilian government and the armed forces are on the same page as far as the war against terror is concerned. "There are absolutely no differences there."
Pakistan Army launched its offensive against Taliban and other terrorist organizations in North Waziristan in June, after it tried unsuccessfully for peace settlement with them.
"What happened is a manifestation of our commitment, that the way they have retaliated, that means that we are really hurting them. We are hurting them very, very, especially in North Waziristan, which was called the epicenter of terrorism in this whole region or perhaps in the world," he said.
"So this is evidence that Pakistan army is performing and performing very well. The fact that there's a blowback, the blowback and the horror in wartime Karachi and now today in Peshawar, the contempt speaks of the commitment of our armed forces in fighting terrorism," Asif said.
Responding to questions, he said the sympathy for the Taliban has declined in the past few years.
"Over the last 10 years, there used to be a lot of sympathy for Taliban or for these terrorists in Pakistan, like in 2004-5 or '06. But over the last 3-4 years, this has diminished. Perhaps the sympathizers for Taliban today in Pakistan are past 5 per cent or 6 per cent or 7 per cent or 8 per cent," he said.
"But there was a time when they had huge support in Pakistan but today people realize that this is a menace and this is something which we have to eliminate. There is no sympathy for any Taliban," Asif added.