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Govt must consider TTP talks offer: PTI

LAHORE, Jan 4: Taking note of the ruling coalition responding positively to the talks offer made by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has termed it vindication of its stance.

In a statement on Friday, PTI Information Secretary Shafqat Mehmood said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had been quoted in the media as saying the government preferred dialogue over military operation, while he added the Awami National Party – a government ally – had also expressed its readiness for talks with the Taliban.

The PTI felt it was good these parties had finally recognised negotiations should never be ruled out when a nation was faced with internal insurgencies. Party Chairman Imran Khan had in Dec 2009 offered to mediate in the conflict, he added.

“He had clearly said then that whatever agreement was arrived at would be within the constitution and be ratified by parliament, but there was no response from the government,” Mehmood said.

He said the current talks offer by the TTP, though couched in a language that showed little prospect of a move forward, must be considered seriously by the government. Strongly condemning the use of violence and terrorism by the TTP to achieve its political ends, the PTI believed the path of negotiations must never be closed, he said.

The PTI leader said his party had also long believed that partnership with the US in the war in Afghanistan was a major reason for the increase in militancy and terrorism.

He said the possible negotiations with the TTP must have a three-point agenda to take the initiative forward. The points included the militants would accept the constitution of Pakistan that already defined all laws would be in conformity with the holy Quran and Sunnah, they would renounce violence as a means to achieve their political ends, and they would not use Pakistani soil to launch attacks on a foreign soil.