ISLAMABAD - Identifying attainment of ‘peace through dialogue as top priority’, the All Parties’ Conference (APC) on Thursday put weight behind the efforts for restoration of peace in the country.
The participants agreed that dialogue with the Taliban and other militants was necessary to save valuable lives and put the country on the right track for economic and social development.
But the joint resolution adopted by the attendants stressed that the solution to the issue of terrorism should necessarily be within the ambit of law, security and sovereignty of the country.
The conference was held two weeks after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) offered talks with the government, naming PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and JI chief Syed Munawwar Hassan as acceptable guarantors.
Two important parties, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), kept out of this conference. The parties which attended the APC included PPP, PML-N, MQM, PML-Q, National Party, JUI-F, JUP, BNP (Mengal), Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party, Sunni Tehreek (SN), PML-F, Hazara Democratic Party, Sunni Ittehad, Sindh United Party, BNP (Awami), Qaumi Watan Party, Ittehad Wahdatul Muslimin, JUI-S, Tehreek Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (Norani Group).
The joint declaration for peace read out by ANP chief Asfandyar says that militancy and violence is not a problem of any one party, one province or one area; rather it is the entire country’s problem. “The survival and progress of our country depends on finding relevant solutions to the problem. Continued democratic and political process and its sustainability will help in dealing with the problem in the long run.”
Asfandyar said the participants of the APC believe that this conference is just the beginning of a process and the ANP and the rest of the political and religious parties will continue to consult each other for future line of action. He added that the participants appreciated the efforts of the grand Qabaili (tribal) jirga for the restoration of peace in Fata. He said they wanted the people of Fata and their representatives to know that all the parties who participated in this conference stand with them in their struggle for peace.
“The APC prays for martyrs who have lost their lives because of terrorism, and express their condolence with their families, and also appreciate and acknowledge the sacrifices given by the leaders and members of political parties,” he said while reading out the resolution. He said the conference demands the central and provincial governments announce aid packages for the relatives of the victims of terrorism.
He said the conference also demands giving priority to solving the problems being faced by the people displaced by terrorism and ensuring restoration of peace so that the affected people could go back to their homes with honour and dignity.
The ANP chief said the joint statement would be sent to all institutions of Pakistan. “We have to adopt a collective strategy to overcome the problem of terrorism, as this is not the problem of incumbent government only‚ rather it will also be problem for the coming governments too,” he added.
He said no formal agenda has been set for the conference and it would take into consideration the proposals and suggestions‚ on the basis of which a final declaration will be issued.
Talking to the media after the conference, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali said that 24 parties have signed the joint declaration and they all would jointly confront anyone who tried to defy the postulates of their agreement.
Asked about the utility of this APC near elections, the ANP chief said that this declaration would serve as a roadmap for the upcoming government.
When pointed out that earlier resolutions adopted by the parliament on this subject were not implemented, he said this joint declaration was different in the sense that many parties outside the parliament also participated in it.
To a question, he said that they were not afraid of anyone but they wanted to resolve the issue.
The idea of the APC was initiated after the assassination of senior ANP leader and provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour in December 2012, who was killed in a suicide attack. The important leaders like Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Jhangir Badar, Raja Zafarul Haq, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Chaudhary Shujaat, Maulana Attaur Rahman, Dr Abdul Malik, Asma Jehangir, Allama Tahir Ashrafi and others are participating in the APC.