A visibly upset Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Sunday that his government could no longer move ahead with the all parties conference-endorsed plan for talks with the Taliban following Sunday’s twin bombings in a Peshawar church.
“Such incidents do not augur well for negotiations,” he told reporters in London ahead of his flight to New York, where he is scheduled to attend the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. “Unfortunately, because of this, the government is unable to move forward on what it had envisaged, on what it had wished for.”
At the same time, he instructed the authorities concerned to devise a new security plan for the worship places of the country’s religious minorities.
“We had proposed peace talks with the Taliban in good faith, and with the consent of all political parties… but unfortunately, because of this [attack] the government is unable to move forward on what it had envisaged, on what it had wished for,” he said.
Prime Minister Nawaz said those who carried out the gruesome attack had violated the tenets of Islam.
“Terrorists have no religion… targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and all religions,” he said.
“Such cruel acts of terrorism reflect the brutality and inhumane mindset of the terrorists,” he added.
Terming those responsible for the attack ‘enemies of Pakistan’, the premier said the government will take action against extremist elements in the country after consulting all sides on the matter.
Earlier, before leaving Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz said he was going to the UN General Assembly in New York “as a leader of a responsible democratic nation”.
“We are a peaceful nation and want to enhance economic cooperation, trade and investment in Pakistan. I will share my vision of a progressive, democratic and developed Pakistan, which has the desire to live at peace with its neighbors,” he said in a statement ahead of his departure.
“I will meet world leaders and heads of states to improve economic, political and strategic relationships with them,” he added.
The 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly will be held from September 23 (today) to September 29. Prime Minister Nawaz will address the session on September 27.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, the premier will highlight Pakistan’s foreign policy guidelines and its point of view on different regional and international issues.
He will also hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders, including his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2013.