Pakistan parties extend support for restoring peace in tribal areas
Islamabad: Pakistan's leading political parties, including the ruling PPP and main opposition PML-N on Thursday emphasised the need to give priority to negotiations with the Taliban to establish peace in the country.
Participating in a conference organised in Islamabad by the Awami National Party to discuss ways to tackle terrorism, the political parties agreed that the issue should be resolved in accordance with the Constitution and law and within the bounds of national sovereignty.
The conference was attended by 27 political parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party, PML-N, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, and lawyers organizations.
Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and the Jamaat-e-Islami did not participate in the meet.
At the end of the conference ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan read out a declaration that said the participants emphasized the need to give priority to negotiations for restoring peace.
It called for steps to improve law and order and safeguard precious lives.
The conference said the parties extended their support to efforts by Jirgas for restoring peace in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
The declaration demanded that the federal and provincial governments should provide compensation packages to the kin of those killed or injured during the war on terrorism.
The declaration also sought concrete steps to restore peace in the militancy-hit regions areas so people displaced by fighting could return to their homes.
Addressing the gathering, Khan said terrorism is not an issue to be tackled by one political party or province as it concerns the whole country.
The conference convened by the ANP is the beginning of a process and political parties had agreed to continue efforts to find a peaceful solution to the issue of terrorism.
Even as political leaders were attending the conference, northwest Pakistan witnessed a string of terrorist attacks that killed 21 people and injured dozens more.
The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a police station at Bannu and a suicide car bombing at a security check post in Hangu.
The ANP, which rules Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and has been at the forefront of efforts to counter the Taliban in the northwest, says it has lost over 700 workers and leaders in terrorist attacks since 2008.
The ANP began efforts to hold talks with other political parties to fashion a comprehensive policy on terrorism after one of its top leaders, Bashir Ahmad Bilour, was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in Peshawar in December.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan recently offered peace talks to the government but said its fighters would not disarm.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said the government is ready to hold peace talks with the Taliban if they announce a month-long ceasefire.