Pakistan defends talks with Taliban for peace - The New Indian Express

Pakistan defends talks with Taliban for peace

Published: 04th October 2013 08:49 AM

Last Updated: 04th October 2013 08:49 AM

Pakistan's top security adviser Thursday defended the government's policy to initiate dialogue with the Taliban for peace, Xinhua reported.

The comments came hours after a group of Taliban suicide bombers attacked a rival commander in a country's tribal region for his quest for peace and killed 15 people.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to begin talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan following the last month's parliamentary leaders' call for dialogue.

The recent three deadly attacks in the country's northwest and the killing of a top military general have spoiled atmosphere for the proposed talks.

However, the Pakistani government insists it will pursue the dialogue process for peace.

"Objective of dialogue with Taliban is to establish peace as Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism," Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said.

Speaking at a joint press conference along with British Senior Minister of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, he said peace dialogue should be given a chance as the country's political leadership is united on the issue.

He said the recent attacks should not derail the process. "There are some elements who would like to disrupt the dialogue but the whole purpose of the dialogue is to put an end to such incidents," he said.

"I think despite these incidents the dialogue option should be pursued, because Taliban are many groups and many of them do want to (engage in talks), and they have unanimously said that they want to pursue the dialogue," Aziz added.

A group of senior religious clerics Thursday urged the Taliban to declare ceasefire and stop attacks to make the dialogue process successful.

It is the second time in a week that Islamic scholars have called for peace.

Several known religious leaders, including teachers of the Taliban, called upon the Taliban, the security forces and the government, to declare ceasefire prior to the talks.

The Taliban said Thursday they would declare ceasefire if the government stopped US drone strikes. The Taliban had previously demanded release of their prisoners and withdrawal of forces from the tribal regions.

Taliban sources and government ministers have confirmed exchange of messages however formal talks have not yet started.

Sharif said earlier this week that he will devise a strategy for talks with the Taliban in few days.

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