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Nawaz 'optimistic' about peace talks with Taliban

04 February, 2014

LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday expressed optimism about the outcome of peace talks with the Taliban.

"I will personally supervise the talks process, while Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali will assist me," said the prime minister while talking to newsmen at the Alhamra Arts Council after a meeting with senior journalists and columnists. He said, "It is my utmost desire that the committees formed by the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan make a headway in the talks." He said the government preferred to resolve all issues through dialogue to save the country from further crises.

Nawaz Sharif said the government wanted to settle all issues through dialogue with India, Afghanistan and other countries for durable peace in the region. On the Balochistan issue, he said, "Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch will take all stakeholders on board for durable peace in the province in the larger interest of the country." He said the federal government's support and cooperation would always be with them. Replying to a query, Nawaz said his government had inherited all the present problems and was striving hard to resolve them by taking measures through comprehensive policies.

Answering another question, the prime minister said the national economy had improved remarkably owing to prudent policies and measures adopted by the government. Earlier, the prime minister held a meeting with senior journalists, columnists and intellectuals, including Ataul Haq Qasmi, Mujeebur Rehman Shami, Rauf Kalasra, Najam Sethi, Ataur Rehman, Masood Ashar, Sajid Mir and Sohail Warraich and discussed matters of national importance.

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain expressed the hope on Monday that dialogue with Taliban would start soon as the entire nation was looking towards holding of successful and meaningful talks to ensure lasting peace and security in the country. He was talking to Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Affairs and Coordinator of peace dialogue committee, Irfan Siddiqui, who called on him at the Presidency. The president said that as a member of the peace dialogue committee, the government had entrusted Irfan Siddiqui with an assignment of great national importance.

He said peace and stability was the top-most priority of the government and every possible effort would be taken to restore peace and normalcy in the country. He said the socio-economic development of Pakistan and the progress and prosperity of its people were directly linked to the peace and security in its all parts. President Mamnoon expressed confidence that the serious efforts of peace dialogue committee would prove instrumental in establishing enduring peace and security in the country.

Irfan Siddiqui assured the president that the committee would work with full dedication and commitment to hold result-oriented talks aimed at establishing durable peace in the country. The president also condoled with Irfan Siddiqui on the death of his brother-in-law, Asif Jameel, and offered Fateha for the departed soul. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday gave "open mandate" to the four-member peace committee for starting negotiations with the TTP. Adviser to Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui who is the coordinator of the committee said during a press conference that the committee was expecting the Taliban Shura to meet soon and announce a negotiation team for holding peace talks. "We are seriously waiting for the start of meaningful and result-oriented dialogue," he added. The committee held its first formal meeting with the prime minister on Friday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced formation of the committee during his speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday. The committee comprises PM's Adviser on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui, Major (r) Aamir, renowned journalist Rahimullah Yousafzai and Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and expert on Afghanistan affairs. Irfan Siddiqui told reporters that the committee would now look for a response from the Taliban and is ready to meet their representatives at any place.

"We do not want to waste time and want to listen to the Taliban's stance and have them listen to ours," Irfan Siddiqui said, adding that the prime minister told the committee about the efforts made by him for holding talks with the Taliban to restore peace and end terrorism which has negative impact on economy and society. The prime minister said he would be available to the committee any time.

Seprately, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, on Monday called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the PM House.They exchanged views on matters relating to national security and the overall law and order situation in the country. Matters relating to talks with the TTP were also discussed in the meeting.


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