Talks with Taliban only if they disarm: Pak



Islamabad: The Pakistan government has received messages from extremist elements for holding peace talks but a dialogue will commence only if they disarm themselves, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Tuesday.

"The government has received messages from extremist elements. However, dialogue would start when they disarm themselves," Malik told reporters at the airport in Quetta soon after his arrival in the southwestern city.

He however did not give details but said the government is serious about making progress in dialogue with militants for the cause of peace though no talks would be held if the extremists continued wielding arms.

Some anti-peace forces are involved in hatching conspiracies and activities to destabilise Pakistan, he claimed.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had recently offered peace talks to all militant groups, including the Taliban, if they "decommissioned" themselves.

Meanwhile, responding to a question, Malik said he had written a letter to the Chief Secretary of Punjab province to detain Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader Ishaq Malik, who was recently released from prison, and to arrest his nine associates.

Malik had been detained and further action was being taken in this regard, he said.

The Interior Minister further said the government was aware of reports of NATO jets from Afghanistan intruding into Pakistani airspace and such violations were being noted under international procedures.

No one will be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan and there would be reactions to any action that violates the sovereignty of the country, he said.

Malik said he was visiting Quetta on the instructions of Prime Minister Gilani. "Issues of (Shia) pilgrims travelling to Iran, sectarianism, border surveillance and other law and order-related matters will be reviewed during my visit," he said.

The minister was scheduled to meet representatives of the Shia Hazara community and different religious sects.

The Hazaras have been targeted in a string of sectarian attacks across Balochistan province and the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for several strikes.

PTI