Peace talks: Taliban will have to lay down arms, says Nawaz Sharif

Published: September 27, 2013

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday  that the Taliban will have to renounce terrorism if peace talks are to move forward.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal during his first visit to New York after being elected in May, the Prime Minister said, “we evolved a consensus… on a joint strategy to put an end to terrorism in Pakistan [through peace talks].”

Asserting that the Taliban had disowned the bomb attacks on All Saints Church, he said that the Taliban hadn’t done that before but the intelligence agencies were still investigating the matter. He revealed that contrary to media reports the Taliban had also disowned the attack that killed a two-star General in Dir.

“As far as the tragic incidents are concerned, they are unacceptable. There cannot be any compromise on that,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that the Taliban offered a dialogue themselves and the political parties decided to respond to their offer positively.

However, he added that the Taliban will have to renounce terrorism.

“They will have to say they are keen to do business with the government. They will have to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan. We’re also waiting for their response, what they have to say in this regard,” he said.

“If we agree on addressing this terrorism, (Taliban) will have to be disarmed, lay down their arms,” the Prime Minister added, but made it clear that while the government wanted a peaceful resolution, it hinged on the Taliban laying down their arms and accepting the Constitution.

New Chief of Army Staff

When asked if there was a possibility that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani will be given an extension, Nawaz said that no decision had been reached on the subject.

“I’m not saying yes or no. Of course, we will be taking a decision on this issue soon.”

Responding to a question about the next army chief, he said, “there’s still time. I’ll handle it.”

Ties with India

Asserting that he was the one who had brought the two countries together, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the two neighbouring countries were picking up the threads from where they left off in 1999.

“I will be having a meeting with the Indian prime minister here in the next few days,” he said, adding that his government stood for peaceful resolution of all issues with India, including Kashmir.

Talking about the issue of Siachen, he said, “both countries’ armies are sitting at an altitude of more than 22,000 feet high. I don’t know what sense it makes in this modern age that armies are sitting at more than 22,000 feet. I think we have to resolve this issue as well.”

The Prime Minister said that both the countries were spending a lot of money and resources building up their defense.

“We have been spending resources which should have been spent on social sectors on buying F-16s, frigates, tanks, expensive submarines,” he said, adding that India was spending more resources on its defense than Pakistan.

Relations with US

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that he had a good rapport with the American government.

“President Obama was very kind to call me up immediately after my election and express his desire to work with Pakistan,” he said, asserting that he wanted to work with the US.

Drones

The Prime Minister said that the issue of drones was discussed with Senator John Kerry when he visited Pakistan.

Asserting that the drone strikes were counter productive, he said, “the more the drones, the more the terrorists get multiplied. You kill one man, his sons, his father, his brothers, they become terrorists. So this is something that is not helping at all.”

He said that he plans on taking the matter up with President Obama in their forthcoming meeting.

Iran Pipeline

The Prime Minister said that the previous government had signed an agreement with Iran on the gas pipeline and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led government needed to proceed with it.

“There will be a $3 million daily penalty from Iran if that’s not completed by the end of next year,” he said, adding that the only way they could retract from the agreement was if the US provided gas or the daily $3 million penalty.

“There is an acute shortage of gas in Pakistan, so we have to import gas from somewhere,” he said.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Omar Khurshid
    Sep 27, 2013 - 1:07AM

    NS said: the more the drones, the more the terrorists get multiplied. You kill one man, his sons, his father, his brothers, they become terrorists. So this is something that is not helping at all.”

    Where the PML-N supporters, Now NS is saying the exact same words as IK.

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  • Azmat
    Sep 27, 2013 - 1:13AM

    Good to see such bold statements made by Prime Minister to US media…

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  • Sep 27, 2013 - 1:20AM

    What this talk of “I am not saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ regarding extension to Gen Kayani”? Mr Sharif is on record having said that there will be no extension, and that the next army chief will be the senior most next in line. Is he going back on all that he said before elections? Then God help Pakistan!

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  • aqib
    Sep 27, 2013 - 1:45AM

    all this talk of military solution…is it even possible logistically speaking, in the next 6-7 months?, given the approaching winters and the hilly terrain that we are dealing with.

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  • Malik HAMZA
    Sep 27, 2013 - 1:58AM

    Tribune why don’t you post my comments if i say something against Sharif or Imran ?
    Very biased.

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  • BaatCheat
    Sep 27, 2013 - 3:56AM

    If the Taliban lay their weapons down before talks, what’s going to be the point of talks?!

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  • vaticancity
    Sep 27, 2013 - 4:25AM

    I’m not up to date with the politics in Pakistan but must say Mr Nawaz Sharif is looking aware these days. He definitely looks like a changed man. Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Sep 27, 2013 - 6:57AM

    What does the Kaptaan say, will the good Talibans also have to lay their arms?

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  • Mohamma Anjarwala
    Sep 27, 2013 - 8:07AM

    NS stance on Pak Iran gas pipeline that either Us provide $3 million daily or provide Pakistan with alternative gas is not understandable , he should have directly told the US that we would go ahead with the project as its of hour
    hope our leaders gain enough courage to talk to US president directly on issues involving national development.

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  • blackRose
    Sep 27, 2013 - 8:45AM

    Mr. PM looks very well prepared.May he had been cramming all notes provided by Sirtaj Aziz before going to UN trip.Still more hard work to do for restructuring tarnished image of Pakistan internationally.

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  • Muntazir
    Sep 27, 2013 - 8:49AM

    Not a conspiracy theorist but this seemed highly likely as the Gen was initially scheduled to fly but then had to drop the idea. So, how come Taliban knew of his exact movements had it not been for this. I hope ET won’t block my comment:

    http://express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1101972234&Issue=NP_LHE&Date=20130927

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  • Sep 27, 2013 - 9:39AM

    @Azmat: These statements are only made to impress the overseas public and the General Assembly and are not real. When he comes back there will be procrastination, excuses, and topic diversions and finally it will be said that, “I meant to say this and not that.” Nonetheless, the Pakistan Army cannot do much in winter fighting in the particular terrain, in fact no army. Salams

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  • Aysha M
    Sep 27, 2013 - 9:47AM

    Yes PM we will consider your request. Currently we are busy opening offices and expanding business all over Pakistan

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  • ;-)chief
    Sep 27, 2013 - 12:23PM

    When there is no finds for gasline in the budget…..
    How can the pipline be build….

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  • Last Word
    Sep 28, 2013 - 7:04PM

    Pakistanis should thank their stars that NS and not IK is ruling the country. NS statement regarding peace talks is more logical, and that of a fearless leader whereas IK’s stand on talks and opening of an office tantamounts to total surrender before these barbarians.

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  • smbfhs
    Sep 29, 2013 - 7:48AM

    @BaatCheat: THE POINT is “Sincerely”, “Honesty”, “Truthfulness” and “Commitment. All these words are absent from these extremists vocabulary. As I said before: All they want is Freedom of Smuggling of all sorts, No Tax or Tariff, No document for anything…from Birth to Trade or Income. No Vote or education at the least for women. No commitment or recognition to Pak constitution, Pak Courts, Pak education or public healthcare.

    The arms are used to defy these…its as simple as that. Please don’t confuse it with Sharia. We are Muslims too and know justice, compassion, mercy and humanity and we don’t believe in bombing and killing innocents.
    Its very possible that old arch enemies of Pakistan benefiting from the chaos and are using the opportunity to settle their scores with Pak army and Pak govt by sabotaging our foreign missions and defaming Pakistan in world media by killing Chinese, Christians, School girls and Americans.

    So now it’s more valid for the Taliban to put down their weapon to prove their honesty. Pak govt never was and never will attack them while they are negotiating. What are they afraid of. Govts and armies are never as fast as the extremists when it comes to killing, are they?

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