ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Thursday the government generally preferred holding talks with militants to launching military operation against them because negotiations were the preferred mode of dispute resolution.
“We even held talks with Sufi Mohammad, despite opposition from many quarters. It is our policy to resolve issues through negotiations, but if needed we will carry out military operations,” Mr Kaira remarked.
Talking to reporters, he said the cabinet meeting held earlier in the day noted that 2012 had ended with a flurry of terrorist attacks and this year began with more of them. However, terrorism per se was not on the meeting’s agenda.
The minister said the cabinet offered fateha for Bashir Bilour, polio vaccinators, Shia pilgrims and Levies Force personnel, who had all been killed by terrorists.
He said the government’s anti-terrorism policy was in place and the forces concerned, including intelligence agencies, were working on the approved strategy.
“We are fighting, taking territories back from them. Many hardened militants have been killed and the success is visible too,” Mr Kaira said. “But we need to understand that we are not dealing with just four dacoits or a small gang of outlaws.”
He said religious extremism was the outcome of a particular mindset and criticised the media for “being soft on those who were supporting extremists”.
“It is you people who should come forward and highlight those who are giving them the leverage, even providing them with flagged cars,” Mr Kaira said.
Reporters continued to ask questions about Dr Tahirul Qadri’s planned march on Islamabad despite repeated assertions by the minister that the cabinet did not discuss the issue.
However, he said the MQM and PML-Q were the PPP’s coalition partners and not its part. Therefore, they could choose their own course of action.
“Nobody is threatened by Mr Qadri’s march. And despite a track record of involvement (in such activities) certain quarters have clarified their position and said they are not involved.”