ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday gave the green signal to Maulana Samiul Haq to initiate talks with the Taliban.
The chief of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S), Maulana Samiul Haq assured the prime minister that he would apprise him of the situation after his meeting with the Taliban. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a one-on-one meeting with the maulana for about one and a half hour. The JUI-S chief, who had called on the premier, discussed threadbare matters relating to the talks with Taliban and the future strategy in this regard.
Sources said that the prime minister assigned the task of paving way for talks with the Taliban to Maulana Samiul Haq, who claims to have close relations with the Taliban. Prime Minister Nawaz told the maulana that the government sincerely desires talks with the Taliban and asked him to initiate the talks. Later, while talking to a TV channel, Maulana Samiul Haq said that he met the prime minister on his request. He said he would try his best to help resolve this issue and added that the core issue was to stop the drone attacks.
Maulana Samiul Haq said the US should understand that talks with the Taliban were in the interest of Pakistan as well as regional peace. He said when we get ready, foreign pressures do not allow us to proceed. “Thousands of Pakistanis have been martyred in a war which is not ours,” he said. He demanded that the losses incurred in North Waziristan be compensated, and advised the prime minister to revisit the foreign policy.
Maulana Samiul Haq said that the Rawalpindi tragedy and matters relating to sectarianism were also discussed in the meeting. On the occasion, the JUI-S chief demanded that the operation in North Waziristan should be stopped. He remarked that the Taliban are waiting for the government to act first. Hoping for a good beginning to the New Year, Maulana Samiul Haq said change in government policies can bring the Taliban to negotiation table.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan rejected the impression that an operation was underway in North Waziristan. “No operation is underway in North Waziristan. The government’s first priority is to engage Taliban with dialogue process and significant developments would soon be visible in next few weeks,” he told reporters. The minister also dispelled the impression that the task to hold dialogue was assigned to any individual, saying the government had not given authority to any individual for negotiations with Taliban.
The entire dialogue process would be carried out in light of the decisions taken at the all-parties conference (APC), he added. Answering a question, Chaudhry Nisar said the first draft of the anti-terrorism law had been formulated and would be presented soon to the federal cabinet for its onward submission to parliament. “We are burning midnight oil to devise comprehensive strategy to counter the curse of terrorism.” Nisar said the new policy would be made so comprehensive that it could counter the internal as well external threats of terrorism.
The interior minister agreed with a questioner that the journalist community had been performing in an adverse environment. Chaudhry Nisar said the government was making all-out efforts to protect working journalists facing threats in different parts of the country. He pointed out that the Interior Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Information, would soon frame laws to protect the working journalists.
When his attention was drawn towards a recent statement of erstwhile military dictator Pervez Musharraf, Nisar said that while in office Musharraf had maligned the fame and authority of the prime national institution and is now again using the same tactics to save his skin. He said that the government would soon enact a comprehensive plan to deal with the challenges like price hike of daily-use items, load-shedding in power and gas sector, in consultation with the stakeholders.
He said that the PML-N firmly believes in a system of good governance that ensures a corruption-free society. He said major national entities like Pakistan Railways, PIA and others have started showing progress instead of being declared bankrupt.
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