Ulema urge govt, Taliban to cease fire, engage in talks

* Convention agrees use of power no solution to terrorism * Taliban sons of Pakistan, must support peace process for sake of country, humanity
Ulema urge govt, Taliban to cease fire, engage in talks

LAHORE: The Ulema and Mashaikh Convention on Saturday urged both the government and Taliban to cease fire and said that use of power is not a solution to terrorism.
Reading the joint statement of Ulema and Mashaikh Convention, head of Taliban talks committee and leader of JUI-S Maulana Samiul Haq said that restoration of peace is a prerequisite for stability, progress and prosperity in the country.
He said that Saturday’s convention had been convened to take the clerics into confidence over the dialogue process between government and Taliban committees. The joint statement of the convention said that Taliban are sons of Pakistan; therefore they should support peace process for the sake of the country and humanity. It said the convention agreed that peace in Pakistan could only be achieved through talks. The clerics also sought the Taliban support for the restoration of peace in the country. The statement added that a ceasefire was necessary for talks to be successful and that clerics appealed to the Taliban and government to announce a ceasefire.
The statement placed responsibility on both parties to ensure the dialogue process was not interrupted.
According to the statement, more ulema conventions were required in all four provinces. It said the convention demanded both sides hold ceasefire to make dialogue process successful. The statement said a military operation and use of power would lead the country towards endless bloodshed. 
It said the convention had also told TTP that the Taliban should not talk with weapons but speak in a language of peace.
The statement said that power should not be used even if the talks fail. It said that some elements, which are enemy of the nation, want to sabotage peace process, and added that sectarianism and other conspiracies of enemies should be foiled through unity.
The statement further said that mistakes of former Pakistani governments had dragged the country into proxy war of America which resulted in relentless violence in Pakistan.
It said the “real jihad” is to pull the country out of the West’s war.
According to the joint statement, Youm-e-Dua will be observed throughout the country on Friday (February 21). It said the government of Pakistan should reconsider its foreign policy under the joint resolutions of parliament. It said that an army operation and use of force will cause unprecedented destruction and violence, adding that efforts to undermine the peace efforts should be thwarted.
Earlier addressing Ulema and Mashaikh Convention, Maulana Samiul Haq said that any operation against Taliban would not be the right decision and both sides should be aware of the conspiracies that are being hatched to foil the peace talks.
He said that arranging peace talks was a huge responsibility and he was not capable enough to take it and that was why he had invited all others to take part in the peace process. He urged both sides to announce ceasefire to obtain the “best results” from the talks.
“Peace talks are the only viable solution…war can never bring peace,” said Samiul Haq, flanked by several other religious and political leaders, including Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan and Allama Tahir Ashrafi.
“Big powers have witnessed the outcome of war in Afghanistan. A military operation will only hurl the country further towards destruction. The peace process should be made successful at all costs,” he added. Samiul Haq said that religion does not allow torture, terrorism and extremism. “Saving one person’s life is equal to saving the lives of all human beings,” he added.

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