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'Sincere efforts' underway to bring Taliban to table: Ch Nisar

13 January, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated on Sunday that negotiations with the Taliban were the government's top priority and serious efforts are being made in this regard, but warned that the militants unwilling to hold talks will be dealt with sternly.

Talking to newsmen in Islamabad on Sunday evening‚ Nisar said the government was entrusted with holding talks with the Taliban by the political leadership of the country during the all-parties conference. He said that the country was passing through a delicate phase and there was a need to have complete unanimity of views and consensus on the strategy to deal with the challenge of terrorism and violence.

The interior minister called upon the Taliban factions opposing the peace process to grow out of their mindset and respond positively to the gestures of the government. "I urge Taliban groups who are refusing to hold dialogue that the path of Islam is the path of welfare and peace, and not of bullet." Nisar said that both talks and military operation against the Taliban are difficult tasks, as they are not a party or force which is in front of us. He said we are tolerating a lot of unjustified criticism for talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban.

The minister said negotiations are underway with different groups and hoped for a good outcome. He said the government welcomes those Taliban groups who respond to talks' offer positively, but those who will resort to arms‚ the government will wage a war against them. He said the government would go after them wherever they are. "The desire for talks should not be considered as a weakness of the government," the minister said. Moreover, he said that the Pakistani nation, in particular the people of FATA, has given matchless sacrifices in the unending "war of terror", and it is high time to give peace a chance.

"No one should have any misgivings that we would let terrorists coerce us into accepting their unconstitutional terms. We will do everything under the constitution," the interior minister said, adding that the "use of power would be the last option". "If needed, we're fully prepared for its (power) effective use, everyone should keep this in mind that we have the ability and the will to take the fight to the terrorists," the minister warned. He categorically stated that the dialogue process could not proceed if the Taliban continue to attack civilian and government officials.

The Taliban had killed a top policeman renowned for his tough stance on criminals and militants in a car bomb in Karachi on Thursday. The Taliban described Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Chaudhry Aslam's death as a "huge victory". At least eleven others were wounded in the attack at Lyari Expressway near Essa Nagri. In 2011, the militant group rammed his house with a huge car bomb, killing eight people but leaving his family unscathed.

"We were working for a long time to eliminate him as he killed and tortured many of our people in Karachi," said Taliban spokesman Sajjad Mohmand from Mohmand Agency in the tribal areas. "We trained this (suicide bomber) especially to eliminate him. It's a huge success for our people." He said the Taliban would continue to target other officers on a hit list.

Interior Minister Nisar said that negotiators were talking to the Taliban leadership to persuade them to get on with the talks with the government. "Maulana Samiul Haq and some other religious clerics are using their influence to bring Taliban to the dialogue table," Nisar said.

To a question about NADRA chairman's resignation the interior minister said the next chairman would be appointed through an open competitive process. Until then an acting chairman will be appointed. He said audit of NADRA will be carried out soon and the organisation, which had been reluctant to have itself audited in the past‚ will fully cooperate with the auditor general of Pakistan. He said during the previous government's tenure eight thousand people were recruited in NADRA and their performance audit would also be carried out.


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