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Pakistan minister renews peace talks offer to Taliban

Publication Date : 13-01-2014


Disclosing that dialogue with some militant groups was in a crucial phase, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan renewed on Sunday the government’s offer of talks to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other groups so far averse to the process.

Speaking at a press conference here he said it would be clear in a few days if the process would gain momentum, but hoped for a positive outcome.

He said the groups which positively responded to the offer for talks would find the government ready for engagement in the process in a serious and responsible manner.

The minister declared an all-out war on and a hot pursuit of the militants deciding to resort to violence. “The time has come to rid the soil of this orgy of death and destruction that has been continuing for years.”

To those refusing to adopt the path of dialogue he said that although the religion allowed revenge, forgiveness was the most pleasing act.

“What is the difference between those choosing the option of unrest, killings and bomb blasts instead of talks, and the external forces which have pushed the country towards an unending war?”

He said the drone attacks were beyond the control of the government and it was not appropriate to punish the people of the country for them.

“They should understand that these predator strikes were meant to sabotage the efforts for dialogue, reconciliation and peace.”

Asked if a general amnesty could be announced for the groups laying down their arms, he said it was a demand from the other side but it could be discussed during the talks.

He said many people, including religious personalities, were playing their role for dialogue with militant groups.

Chaudhry Nisar said a drone attack had put the entire process off the track a few weeks ago, but the government had continued its efforts and holding talks was still its first priority.

He asked the proponents of a military operation to name an area where the use of force would resolve the issue.

“We are not facing a visible force concentrated in a specific area.”Referring to the killing of police official Chaudhry Aslam in Karachi, he said

the government was being asked for a military operation. “Would an operation in North Waziristan or Fata bring peace in the entire country?”

He said the government’s policy was in line with the responsibility entrusted to it by an all-party conference and it was trying to make dialogue a reality.

He said the dialogue process would be carried forward with dignity and by preserving law and sovereignty of the country.

He said the aim of the government was to restore peace in the country in general and the tribal areas in particular.

Answering a question about the Pervez Musharraf case, he rejected a perception that the recent visit of the Saudi foreign minister had anything to do with a ‘safe exit’ for the former military ruler. He said the Saudi minister had not taken up the issue in any of his official meetings and just sought to know during an informal meeting as to what was going on.

He also rejected an impression that he had been in the dark when Musharraf’s route was suddenly changed and he landed at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) instead of appearing before the court to face the treason case.

He said the decision to change the route had been taken inside the car when Musharraf faced a problem. The SP (security) of Islamabad and security officer of retired Gen Musharraf were in the car with him.

Chaudhry Nisar said he had been informed of the decision about the route change and he also informed the prime minister.

He said the guard of the 111 Brigade had been deployed after Musharraf reached the AFIC and even those in the hospital had been unaware of the development till he reached there.

He confirmed that Gen Musharraf’s wife Sehba Musharraf had requested that his name be taken off the Exit Control List (ECL) on the basis of a vague decision by the Sindh High Court.

The minister said the name was on the ECL on a request of the Federal Investigation Agency because a sensitive case was pending against him, clearly indicating that it would not be struck off the list.

The minister said a performance audit of Nadra.


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