Islamabad: Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan on Wednesday said the Pakistani Taliban should be allowed to open an office in the country so that peace talks could be held with the militants.
Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, asked the PML-N government to declare a ceasefire if it is serious about holding talks with militants.
He called on the government to allow the militants to open an office in Pakistan similar to the one set up by the Afghan Taliban in Qatar to facilitate dialogue.
The PML-N`s plans for talks with militants ran into rough weather after a Taliban faction claimed a recent suicide attack on a church in Peshawar that killed over 80 people, a majority of them Christians.
Khan, who has often been accused of being soft on the Taliban, said: "People voted for the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf because they want peace."
He made the remarks while speaking to reporters at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar where he had gone to meet victims of the attack on the church. This was his second such visit since Sunday.
"At the All Parties Conference, all political parties decided to talk to the Taliban," he said. He argued that if the US could facilitate the opening of offices by the Afghan Taliban in Qatar, Pakistan should do the same.
Talking about the bombing of the church, Khan claimed the incident had been "politicised". He said 170 blasts had occurred in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the past nine years but his party had not politicised those attacks.
The Tehrik-e-Insaf, which rules Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, has been criticised by analysts and the media for its stand on talks with militants blamed for over 40,000 deaths.