PESHAWAR, Jan 22: Awami National Party has stepped up efforts to convene an all parties’ conference for developing a consensus on counter militancy before general elections in the country.

On Monday, ANP Consultative Council advised party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan to immediately hold meetings with heads of other political parties to persuade them to participate in the proposed moot and hammer out a joint strategy against terrorism before elections take place.

In line with the advice, Mr Khan met Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Islamabad ion Tuesday, discussed issues relating to militancy with him and requested him to participate in APC.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain has declared Mr Rehman’s response to ANP request for participation in APC positive.

“We are hopeful that we can hold a successful conference where all political parties will have representation,” he told Dawn.

According to the minister, ANP has yet to fix a date for the proposed conference as it is trying to get confirmation for participation from the maximum possible parties.

“We are ready to go to political leaders several times for the sake of peace and convince them to attend APC. Before general elections, it is very important to have a joint strategy against terrorism otherwise things will get out of control,” he said.

Mr Hussain said the proposed APC would provide first formal platform for discussion on terrorism in detail and make a joint strategy after thorough debate among political leaders.

He said the decision to participate or stay away from conference lied with political parties but ANP would try its level best to ensure end to terrorism for free, fair and impartial elections.

The minister expressed optimism that sense would prevail.

“We’re hopeful that our requests for initiating a debate on terrorism in APC will not fall on deaf ears and most of the parties will agree to show up and share their opinion about the spate of endless violence in the province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and other parts of the country,” he said.

Mr Hussain said Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party had confirmed participation in APC, while the remaining parties were being contacted by ANP for the purpose.

He said ANP had always chosen democratic way to make vital political decisions.

The minister said the ANP government had taken leadership of all political parties into confidence in an all parties conference about the 2009 accord on Shariah enforcement in Malakand. He added that the government again invited all political leaders to discuss the situation following the failure of the said accord.

“We are confident that in view of the current situation, we will be able to facilitate a debate and reach a political consensus against terrorism,” he said.

Mr Hussain said by holding APC, ANP would set the ball rolling for finding solution to terrorism because we know the next government will also face this problem. So, this APC is a step in the right direction,” he said.

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