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Govt seeks opposition input on strategy against Taliban

28 January, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday sought opposition's guidance on whether to pursue the dialogue process with the Pakistani Taliban or launch a military operation against them after it came under sharp criticism in the National Assembly over its lack of decision in this regard.

On the first day of the eight session of the Lower House of parliament, opposition parties Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took strong exception to continuous absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the assembly proceedings, particularly on Monday, to tell the nation about the government's future line of action to deal with terrorism. All the opposition groups in the assembly also staged a token walkout against this.

Responding to criticism of the opposition parties Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan announced that the government is still in favour of holding dialogue with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) if they showed sincerity to enter into meaningful talks. To soothe a charged opposition, Nisar offered to seek guidance from it on whether to hold dialogue or conduct a military operation. However, he pointed out that the opposition also appears divided over what course of action should be adopted.

Nisar noted that a military operation can be successful only if there was hundred percent consensus because differences would minimise chances of success. He said that terrorism is not a issue of one party or group. "It should be seen in the light of national interests rather than being politicised," he asserted and added that more consultation is needed before a tangible policy is formed. About prime minister's continuous absence from the House, Nisar assured that he (Nawaz) would come to the House. "He planned to come here but put it on hold for further consultation," he said.

Earlier, opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah severely criticised the government's alleged inaction against terrorism. He came down hard on the prime minister and said that people of the country want him to say something at this forum. "Our eyes have been waiting impatiently for him to come to the assembly hall," Shah remarked. He said that the prime minister should show that he represents the people of country rather than only Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Shah said that much time has been wasted in taking a clear line against the terrorists and now Pakistan cannot afford to waste further time. He assured that the PPP would support Prime Minister Nawaz fully if he took solid steps, and would never deceive him in the greater national interest.

PTI's Chairman Imran Khan also deplored the absence of the prime minister from the assembly and said that parliament wanted to strength his hands to bring peace in the country. He demanded that government should take the opposition on board on the strategy against the TTP. He rejected the notion that he is pro-Taliban and said that his party only wanted dialogue with Taliban under the ambit of constitution. Imran noted that the country appears to be heading towards a military operation and if so "we should get together on the assembly forum".


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