Pakistan's PM offers Taliban talks, slams US drones

Nawaz Sharif offered an olive branch to Taliban militants, blasted US drone attacks, reiterated commitment to good relations with India

Pakistan's PM offers Taliban talks, slams US drones

World Bulletin / News Desk

In his first address to the nation as prime minister, newly-elected Nawaz Sharif offered an olive branch to Taliban militants, blasted US drone attacks, reiterated commitment to good relations with India and underlined the need for a policy review on Afghanistan.

“Soon after my election I had invited all political and religious parties to sit together and formulate a national agenda. I even extend this offer to those who unfortunately have chosen the path of extremism," Sharif said in his televised address.

"I invite them again for reconciliation and compromise."

But Sharif, who won the May parliamentary elections, did not elaborate as to when or how the government would approach Taliban for peace talks.

“The government has more than one option to eradicate terrorism but it would be wise to take such steps that can bring an end to ongoing bloodshed," he maintained.

“Like any other Pakistani, I too want an immediate end to this game of blood and fire, whether it is through peace talks or through a comprehensive state operation."

Sharif, now serving his third term as prime minister, admitted that the entire state machinery, including the security forces, has failed to fully meet the challenge of terrorism.

“It is high time to admit that we as a whole have failed to meet this challenge. And Pakistan cannot afford this situation any more. Time has come when we should call black as black, and white as white."

Without naming former military dictator Pervez Musharraf of the defeated Pakistan People's Party, Sharif blamed the current deteriorating security situation in the country on bad policies and vested interests.

Sajjad Mir, a Lahore-based political analyst, does not take Sharif’s talks offer to Taliban very seriously.

"Peace talks cannot be held in space," he told Anadolu Agency.

"He just said a few lines about what he prefers to bring an end to terrorism, but when would he do that? What would be the mechanism? When the process will begin?"

Mir said another serious question is whether the army, which has nearly 4,000 personnel in its war against militants, is ready for peace talks with Taliban.

He admits, however, that the government has to do something regarding the terrorism problem before 2014, the year of proposed US pullout from neighboring Afghanistan.

"This is very difficult terrain to ride for Sharif and he understands that. That is why he did not say anything clearly about the proposed talks with Taliban."

 Drone

Prime Minister Sharif reiterated Pakistan’s stance on US drone attacks in the troubled Waziristan region - an alleged heartland of militancy.

He insisted such attacks breach Pakistan's sovereignty and must be stopped forthwith.

“I raised this issue in terse words at a recent meeting with (US) Secretary of State John Kerry and demanded a stop for these attacks," Sharif said.

But he did not elaborate on what Kerry said in reply to his demand.

"The UN Secretary General too has very clearly termed drone attacks as a violation of international laws and human rights," Sharif said.

"He has also denounced the killing of citizens in these attacks."

During a two-day visit to Islamabad last week, UN chief Ban Ki-moon criticized drone attacks.

Mir, the political expert, said the prime minister did not have anything substantial to tell the nation about drone attacks.

"That means Kerry simply refused to entertain his demand, otherwise he would have told the nation about his reply," he told AA.

  India

Premier Sharif once again offered to resume peace talks with the Indian leadership, amid heightening tensions at the eastern borders.

"Wars in past have pushed back the two nations," he told the nation.

"It is the responsibility of the leadership of both countries to sit together and delineate steps to rid the two nations of poverty, illiteracy, and backwardness."

Sharif, however, stressed that Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan and a national issue which must be resolved to bring a durable peace to the region.

On Afghanistan, the new prime minister said Pakistan has to review its Afghan policy and come up with a new strategy to present a new face in the world. 

Contrary to wide expectations, Sharif did not say a single word about the much-discussed Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project.

He said his government was working hard to overcome the simmering energy crisis with the help of China.

"It will take five years to overcome the energy crisis."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Ağustos 2013, 09:28
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