Pakistan plans national conference on terrorism

The Pakistani government is planning a national conference next week to build consensus on dealing with terrorism, even a former prime minister has called for talks with militants who are willing to turn a new leaf.

Updated: Jul 04, 2010, 18:13 PM IST

Islamabad: The Pakistani government is planning a national conference next week to build consensus on dealing with terrorism, even a former prime minister has called for talks with militants who are willing to turn a new leaf.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilnai announced the conference after the government and opposition traded allegations over the failure to deal growing levels of terrorism.

A terrorist attack on the mausoleum of 11 century Saint Abul Hassan Ali Hajveri in the eastern city of Lahore claimed 42 lives Thursday. At least 175 people were injured.

The attack drew wide condemnation across the country.

Gilani has called an inter-provincial meeting for Monday to discuss law and order and finalize the agenda and date of the national conference, private broadcaster Dunya reported.

The consultations are expected to help bridge differences between the government and the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the issue of fighting terrorism.

Sharif, who is considered soft on Islamists, and whose party rules the biggest province of Punjab, has called on the government to negotiate with militants who are willing to work towards peace.

Punjab`s capital Lahore has come under repeated attacks in recent months. The provincial government has however not launched a major crackdown on the militants, allegedly hiding in southern areas.

Gilani, who hails from southern Punjab has not ruled out the possibility of operation in the area when he told reporters Saturday that action will be taken against the militants everywhere.

The Islamic rebels have unleashed a wave of terror across the country, attacking the law enforcement agencies and those opposing their agenda of terror with impunity.

On Sunday, two members of a pro-government militia were killed and three injured in a similar attack when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in Dara Adam Khel in northwestern Pakistan.

A security official said on condition of anonymity that it was a 10-kg explosive device which badly damaged the vehicle.

IANS