Islamabad: Pakistan has said dialogue was the only option it considers right now to address the menace of terrorism and the country`s powerful army was on the same page with the government over the issue.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said government`s offer of dialogue was unconditional. He said the army completely supports the option of dialogue as the top priority to check terrorism and extremism in the country.
Nisar said he does not want to talk of any other option in case the dialogue does not work. "Our priority is dialogue, and we don`t want to talk of anything else right now".
Nisar said the PML-N has been opposed to the post-9/11 policies of the Musharraf regime.
"You just go through my speeches in Parliament as Leader of the Opposition; I have always been in favour of dialogue instead of the use of force," he told The News daily.
Completely endorsing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s dialogue offer, the Minister lamented that the media recently misreported that the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) had set the condition that the government would talk to only those extremist groups that would lay down their arms.
"It was totally baseless," he said, adding the DCC meeting never discussed this.
Asked about the stance of the army and if there was any difference of opinion between the government and the army on the issue of dialogue, Nisar said the civilian government and the military establishment today are enjoying the best of working relationships and are on the same page to pursue the dialogue process.
He doubted there has ever been such an understanding between the civilian government and the military establishment.
The minister said undoubtedly Pakistan lost more than 40,000 civilians, soldiers, policemen and others in terrorist activities, but, he added, it is also a fact that some of those carrying out terrorist activities within Pakistan had also lost their innocent children.
"We need to understand that action leads to reaction," he said, adding there had been no Pakistani involved in 9/11 but still Pakistan has been dragged into this war, and now our people, our children and our security forces are being killed.
"We have to save and secure our own people from being killed like this," he said.
To prevent such killings and to ensure peace, he said, the government had made an unconditional dialogue offer to all extremist groups and those pursuing armed struggle against the state, its people and the security forces.
Later in an interview to Geo News, he said the dialogue with the Taliban failed in the past because the rulers were never sincere with the process.
Nisar added another reason for the failure of the dialogue process was that the civilian and military leadership never remained on same page in this regard in the past.
"At some specific time in the past, when the military leadership was inclined for the initiation of dialogue with the militants, the civilian leadership was not interested and vice versa," he said.
Asked if the "secret agencies" will intervene in the dialogue process or try to sabotage it, Nisar said, "It`s a difficult question".
"After having long discussion sessions with all the security agencies, I can assure you that this will not happen and the government, army and all the security agencies will move forward unanimously," he said adding the government is finalising the steps which will ensure close and continuous coordination between different institutions.