Islamabad: A hardline cleric often described as the "father of the Taliban" on Monday claimed he had received a message from Pakistan`s Prime Minister-designate Nawaz Sharif to help in efforts to begin a dialogue with militants.
Maulana Samiul Haq, who heads the radical Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary at Akhora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, said he had received Sharif`s message to "help usher in peace", and that he would offer all possible cooperation to the new government.
Sharif has "shown great interest in the situation and I received a message from him", the 75-year-old Haq told the media.
Haq claimed Sharif wanted him to help in starting a dialogue with the militants.
There was no word on the development from Sharif`s PML-N party, which is set to form the next government after winning the May 11 general elections.
Hours before Haq spoke to the media, Sharif told newly elected lawmakers of his party in Lahore that the Taliban`s offer of talks should be taken seriously as military operations alone cannot solve the problem of terrorism and militancy.
Haq said, "He (Sharif) knows my importance. Ninety-five per cent of the Taliban fighting today in Afghanistan are from Darul Uloom Haqqania...I don`t want to hide it, they have been trained in this institution. They (the Taliban) all consider me their father."
The cleric said he would tell Sharif to be strong and ignore pressure from the world community on the issue of tackling the militants.
"If anyone tries to foist an outside agenda on us, he (Sharif) should not listen. Or else he will face the same fate as previous governments," he said.
Haq claimed the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan would back efforts by Sharif to hold talks with militants.
"I appeal to him that he (Sharif) should give complete attention to dousing this fire. Jirga and talks are important in our customs. If we could have suppressed (the militants) with guns, we would have done it in 13 years. The matter will not be settled with guns," he said.
Imran Khan`s party, which is set to form a coalition government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, has also said it intends to hold talks with the Taliban.
The party`s Chief Minister-designate, Pervez Khattak, has even said he has no enmity with the militants.