ISLAMABAD, Nov 4: The government reiterated on Monday that only dialogue with Taliban could bring peace to the country.
Presiding over a special meeting of the federal cabinet, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government would honour the resolution adopted by an all-party conference on Sept 9 and make every possible effort to take the peace process forward, according to a handout issued to the media.
The APC had decided to give ‘peace a chance’ and authorised the government to hold talks with militants.
The cabinet meeting had a one-point agenda, discussing the situation arising out of the killing of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakeemullah Mehsud in a US drone attack on Friday.
Before the meeting, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan briefed the National Assembly on the attack and said it had adversely affected his efforts to bring TTP leaders to the negotiating table.
“The government will not let the (dialogue) process to derail,” Prime Minister Sharif said.
An official privy to the cabinet meeting told Dawn that although the prime minister looked a bit sombre, he remained calm and advised the same to the ministers.
About the warning by PTI chief Imran Khan to halt Nato supplies, the meeting decided to take a collective stand along with other political parties.
The official didn’t rule out the option of holding another APC.
The prime minister directed Chaudhry Nisar to get input from parties represented in parliament on the PTI stand.
About chances of the federal government getting in line with the PTI stand on Nato routes, a government official said the centre was neither in a mood nor could it afford brinkmanship at this stage.
“Nato means the entire Western world, not only the US government, whose troops are fighting in Afghanistan,” the official said, adding that the government would try to persuade the PTI to review its stance.
Besides, the official said, the government would also try to persuade the Americans to stop drone attacks and allow it to carry on with the peace process.
Islamabad halted the Nato supplies in November 2011 in retaliation for the killing of 24 soldiers in an attack on the Salala checkpost. The supply route was reopened in July last year.
According to the handout, the government reiterated its position that drone attacks in tribal areas were a violation of the country’s integrity and sovereignty and that its struggle would remain afoot to stop these strikes.
Without mentioning the US government, the prime minister said: “Pakistan has taken the path of non-violence to deal with terrorism. If someone can’t support our efforts in this regard, at least he shouldn’t spoil them.”
He said Pakistan would not allow any internal and external force to disrupt peace efforts. He said Pakistan had rendered countless sacrifices in the war against terrorism and the international community should support and help it to make its initiatives for peaceful negotiations a success. The prime minister said the continuation of drone strikes had manifested beyond any doubt that Pakistan’s efforts for peace and eradication of terrorism had not been understood in its entirety.
The APC had clearly demonstrated that Pakistan’s political and military leadership, its people, media and civil society wanted to solve the problems of terrorism through serious and meaningful dialogue, hence “the world should support us”, Mr Sharif said.
“Only a few days ago I said the process of dialogue has begun as the two sides have established initial contacts. A drone strike under these circumstances has harmed the dialogue and peace efforts of the government,” the prime minister said.