The Pakistan government is serious about holding talks with the Taliban in keeping with a mandate given by all political parties, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said today.
The government wants to take forward the talks process with the Taliban to achieve peace in the region, Sharif told reporters during a visit to the capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. "The government has decided to hold talks with the militants in order to avoid more bloodshed in the country," he said after chairing a meeting on the law and order situation. "The PML-N government has been mandated by the all parties conference to go in for talks with the militants," he added.
Soon after he assumed office in June, Sharif offered unconditional talks to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has killed thousands of people in a series of bombings and suicide attacks over the past few years. The Taliban spurned Sharif's offer after their deputy chief Waliur Rehman was killed in a US drone attack. Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud has said he is open to "serious talks" but the government has not yet approached his group. "The government needs to sit with us, then we will present our conditions," Mehsud told the BBC.
During his interaction with the media at Governor House, Sharif contended that the two previous regimes did not take the issue of terrorism seriously and his government was confronted with this "gigantic problem" soon after coming to power. "We have invited suggestions from all stakeholders to arrest this issue once and for all," he said.