ISLAMABAD - On being unable to come up with a decisive course of action to deal with the Taliban, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided to take the Parliament and mainstream political parties into confidence, but voices in favour of military action against the miscreants, who continue to defy the writ of the government, were dominating during its Parliamentary Party meeting.
Sources in the Parliamentary Party meeting informed The Nation that when the members’ opinion was sought by the prime minister about tackling the issue of terrorism the voices in support of military operation were dominating while those still supporting the dialogue process were wavering on their stand.
Though the Parliamentary Party had not come out clear on the issue but the crux of the discussion at the meeting was that operation should be launched against those militants who keep defying the writ of the government, a ruling party MP informed The Nation.
He further said that it was also decided that in next few days the government would contact other stakeholders, including parliament and the mainstream political parties who are not part of the present parliament, to have their input on the latest developments on the subject. The government would then, in the light of the input coming from various quarters, draw the future strategy to deal with this complex issue.
Earlier addressing the Parliamentary Party meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif identified terrorism and extremism as the main hurdle in the fast-track development of the country. “Without eliminating terrorism and extremism‚ Pakistan cannot progress. We have to save the future of our nation,” he added. He said it was necessary to seek the opinion of parliamentarians on dialogue with Taliban.
Nawaz said that government was ready for dialogue process but only with those who accept country’s constitution. “Elements attacking security forces and civilians are our enemies,” he said. “Officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces laying down their lives are our heroes and their blood will not go in vain,” he added.
The prime minister said that government would fulfil its responsibility to ensure protection of lives and property of the masses. He expressed hope that Pakistan Protection Ordinance would play key role in restoring peace, and law and order in the country.
The prime minister further said Pakistan’s soil should not be used to conduct terrorist activities anywhere. “We are a peaceful nation and believe in good and peaceful relations based on respect with all our neighbours including India. We need to begin a new era of peace and stability in the region, which will be beneficial for Pakistan as well as the whole region.” The PM said, “We have to rebuild the image of Pakistan as a peace loving country.” This can be achieved only through hard work and needs combined efforts of all stakeholders including parliamentarians, civil society, executive, judiciary and defence forces, he added.
During the meeting Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan gave a briefing on the Karachi operation, the overall security situation in the country and the Taliban’s offer to hold talks with the government. Nisar said the decision to hold talks or conduct an operation would be taken by the leadership of the country. However, he said he did not trust the Taliban anymore as they were asking for talks and killing innocent people at the same time. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said terrorism had taken its toll on investment and the performance of industries. He added that by the end of the fiscal year, Pakistan’s Forex reserves will reach $16 billion.
Deliberating upon the energy situation Prime Minister Nawaz said that though the problem has not been fully resolved, the power availability has improved this year due to payment of circular debt.
Agencies add: Meanwhile, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid on Monday called on the government to take serious steps instead of indulging in politics of allegations and deceit.
In a statement, the TTP spokesman regretted that similar to the previous regimes the incumbent government also used the option of negotiations as a weapon for war.
Shahidullah Shahid said the bomb blasts in market places and mosques are the acts perpetrated by the enemies of Islam.
“The government has already issued orders to the security forces to carry out action in the garb of negotiations,” he observed.