APC hints at talks with militants

Published: September 30, 2011
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Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (3L) flanked by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif (2L), and other politicians Imran Khan (R), Asfandyar Wali Khan (2R) and Chaudhry Shujaat (3R). PHOTO: AFP

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (3L) flanked by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif (2L), and other politicians Imran Khan (R), Asfandyar Wali Khan (2R) and Chaudhry Shujaat (3R). PHOTO: AFP

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (3L) flanked by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif (2L), and other politicians Imran Khan (R), Asfandyar Wali Khan (2R) and Chaudhry Shujaat (3R). PHOTO: AFP Unanimous declaration issued by parties does not mention the US by name. PHOTO: AFP
ISLAMABAD: 

In an apparent paradigm shift in the country’s security policy, the nation’s top political and military leadership has decided to hold peace talks with all militant groups, apparently including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The decision to initiate a dialogue process with ‘all stakeholders’ was approved on Thursday at an All Parties Conference, a nine-hour-long marathon meeting which had been convened by the government to demonstrate national unity in the face of what were perceived as threats by the United States (which has since sought to soften its criticism of Pakistan).

“Pakistan must initiate dialogue with a view to negotiate peace with our own people in the tribal areas and a proper mechanism for this be put in place,” said a 13-point joint declaration issued after the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

(Read: APC concludes marathon session with joint resolution – Full text)

While the statement did not clarify, some of the participants of the meeting told The Express Tribune that the phrase “own people” was a reference to militant groups, including the TTP.

“Personally, I am against talking to terrorists but had to endorse it for the sake of national unity,” said Sahibzada Fazl Karim, the head of the Sunni Ittehad Council, an umbrella organisation for Pakistan’s Barelvi groups which are opposed to the Taliban, who are from the rival Deobandi sect.

A Pakhtun nationalist leader said the proposed dialogue would not be spearheaded either by the government or the military alone but a ‘national institutionalised mechanism’ might be developed for that. He said the new mechanism might be on the pattern of the High Peace Council Afghan President Hamid Karzai set up last year to reach out the insurgents in his country.

The wording of the joint declaration – which appears to inadvertently quote John Lennon of the Beatles – also appeared to endorse the assertion by the two politicians.

“The All Party Conference recognised that there has to be a new direction and policy with a focus on peace and reconciliation. ‘Give peace a chance’ must be the guiding central principle henceforth,” read one of the 13 points in the statement, which was backed by the leaders of close to 60 political parties, the government and the military’s top brass.

The conference had also decided to form a parliamentary committee to oversee the implementation on the declaration.

They who shall not be named

Surprisingly, the carefully and generically-drafted declaration did not mention the United States by name even once.

“The APC rejected the recent assertions and baseless allegations made against Pakistan. Such assertions are without substance and derogatory to a partnership approach,” said the declaration without mentioning the source of accusations.

(Read: APC consensus – ‘Give peace a chance’)

But an inaugural speech by Prime Minister Gilani forcefully rebuffed latest allegations by top US military officials of any links between the Haqqani network and Pakistan’s security establishment.

“The blame game is counter-productive. This should end and Pakistan’s red lines and national interests must be respected,” said the prime minister.

But he immediately said all issues should be discussed and resolved through talks. “Any perceptional differences and issues should best be resolved through a constructive dialogue,” Gilani added.

According to participants, ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha played down the possibility of any direct US military campaign inside the country’s tribal belt, indicating at gradual improvement in ties in past couple of days.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2011.

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The government has hinted at holding talks with militants including the Taliban. Do you agree or disagree with such a stance?

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Imran Khan
    Sep 30, 2011 - 5:11AM

    The only last ray of light at the end of tunnel is IMRAN KHAN. Imran khan is unique and can takeout Pakistan from this huge mess that is going in Pakistan. If Imran becomes President Ins’Allah then Cricket will go up because he will replace the PCB Chairman:)
    Thumbs up if you agree!

    Imran khan the Gr8. Zindabad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Sep 30, 2011 - 5:22AM

    Whats new? Over the years Pakistan has made a number of agreements with the militants where Pakistan agrees to withdraw it’s troops in exchange for promises that the Taliban will honor Pakistani law and treat the civilians properly. Of course the Taliban throw that agreement out the window as soon as the negotiator leaves the room. For some bizarre reason Pakistan thinks this is a face saving way of retreating – doubt anyone outside of Pakistan thinks so.

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  • ex
    Sep 30, 2011 - 5:25AM

    ET should stop presenting its Anglo-american centric Liberal Opinions as news. This is a editorial piece not news

    dont confuse the two

    Regards

    People of Pakistan

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  • Sep 30, 2011 - 5:37AM

    Terrorists keep winning in Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Faithful Paki
    Sep 30, 2011 - 5:47AM

    Dear Imran Khan, Nawz Sharif and other respected opposition member,

    I am wondering why the Drone attacks has not been put as prohibited in the resolution of APC ?
    I always saw you guys criticizing against drone attacks but despite of having the best chance to ban it. There is not even a line against it in the full text of the resolution of APC. I was expecting a huge revile on the allegations of US but found nothing but just common criticism on it.
    Alas, it was a last probability to disallow US force/ government for not doing any sort of operation in our homeland but missed. I though it was just government involve in it due to the agreement of Gen. Musharaf but all of our politicians are involve in it …
    Wasn’t expecting it from Mr. Imran Khan… wasn’t expecting that low condemn and non serious decision made by APC…

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  • Faithful Paki
    Sep 30, 2011 - 5:48AM

    Dear APC members,

    I am wondering why the Drone attacks has not been put as prohibited in the resolution of APC ?
    I always saw you guys criticizing against drone attacks but despite of having the best chance to ban it. There is not even a line against it in the full text of the resolution of APC. I was expecting a huge revile on the allegations of US but found nothing but just common criticism on it.
    Alas, it was a last probability to disallow US force/ government for not doing any sort of operation in our homeland but missed. I though it was just government involve in it due to the agreement of Gen. Musharaf but all of our politicians are involve in it …
    Wasn’t expecting it from Mr. Imran Khan… wasn’t expecting that low condemn and non serious decision made by APC…

    Recommend

  • fahim
    Sep 30, 2011 - 6:05AM

    Great.. we will protect these people at any cost… after all they are our strategic assets that can be put to use later. Pak lost a golden opportunity in the last 10 years to clean up the mess and dirt in this country, society and move towards a fast growing nation. After taking half hearted efforts in the last 10 years, pocketing billions of dollars by establishment, we finally decided to settle with these troublemakers.

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  • Ashraf P
    Sep 30, 2011 - 6:16AM

    Militants NEVER change their colors. The so-called “talks” will only give them time to strengthen and collect more donations. The leaders are just kicking the can further along the road. They will not rest until the whole of Pakistan is radicalized.

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  • Mirza
    Sep 30, 2011 - 6:48AM

    Neither party is honest and sincere to the other. Despite all the huff and puff the cooperation and drone attacks would continue. It is like a soap opera and a whole lot of nothing.
    Raymond Davis was arrested and passport taken away, only to be released by Punjab govt and its courts faster than any other case in its history. US diplomats were not allowed to roam around, and then they were allowed. Airbases were not given and then we admitted the handover. Drone attacks cannot be tolerated but they have increased in frequency and intensity. No cooperation with the US but all the ground intelligence is provided for drone attacks. OBL was not even in Pakistan but found in the heart of Pakistan and no official dared denied his presence or killing. We do not need US aid especially after the insulting terms of KL Bill but we are waiting for the money. We don’t want to fight American war but we are being paid for our expenses for over a decade like mercenaries. Does the establishment think Pakistanis are so naïve?

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  • Amazed
    Sep 30, 2011 - 7:24AM

    This is a historic day. Finally we’re moving to the Quaid’s dream: Pakistan ka matlab kya? It took us 6 decades to realize this dream. But Alhamdulillah, finally we have our army will, by the endorsement of all these politicians, help the Taliban brothers to rightly introduce Sharia in the country. MashaAllah. Mubrook.

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  • Was a Pakistani
    Sep 30, 2011 - 7:29AM

    Congrats now we are in league with terrorists

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  • Farooq Khan
    Sep 30, 2011 - 7:42AM

    Has American also signed this resolution?

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  • Babloo
    Sep 30, 2011 - 7:53AM

    This is a big joke.

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  • Raza
    Sep 30, 2011 - 8:42AM

    Great. Call APC + Army on a statement of outgoing American General. Dont call any APC on Economy condition, Corruption, Defence budget, Drone attack, Sectarian killing, Energy crisis, Flood, Dengue, and ..and………

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  • Nisar Khattak
    Sep 30, 2011 - 9:08AM

    I don’t understand what Mr Achakzai is upto. Quite out of context, the PKMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai interrupted DG ISI during the conference with a strange comment, ‘There can be peace in Afghanistan if ISI so desired’. My questions include:

    Is Achakzai a Pakistani or Afghan/ Indian/ US national?.
    Is ISI the source of trouble in Afghanistan?
    Can Pakistan convince US to quit Afghanistan?

    Mr Achakzai, please be Pakistani and have some pity on this poor nation, already facing baseless allegations.

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  • Was A Pakistani
    Sep 30, 2011 - 9:13AM

    US & Western countries now will put sanctions against Pakistan. The existing system has to collapse. Recommend

  • positive pakistani
    Sep 30, 2011 - 9:51AM

    why are we so negative??????????????

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  • common citizen
    Sep 30, 2011 - 10:24AM

    If this resolution is acted upon, than pak is home… Give Peace a chance

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  • ali
    Sep 30, 2011 - 11:28AM

    So FINALLY they have all decided on the best option in the interest of Pakistan: Negotiating and pursuing dialogue with the militants!
    What is interesting here is that the rightists including Jamaat e Islami and Imran Khan have been demanding the same since YEARS!!!
    We must appreciate their far-sightedness! Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Sep 30, 2011 - 11:28AM

    Why not JI, JUI (F & S) and last not least Mr. Imran Khan should be given this task????? Send the leadership of these parties for final negotiations with full authority. Any negotiations with any government representative/s will fail as has been witnessed before on various occasions in the past. See what results they bring back. This is the only solution to devise future policy on Afghanistan including our own homegrown outfits.

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  • faraz
    Sep 30, 2011 - 1:34PM

    Baituallah Mehsood had 200 men when peace deal was signed, in 2 years’ time he gathered a militia of 10,000. Peace talks in Swat miserably failed. Those who believe that talks will lead to a miracle must read the history of peace talks. I support talks if militias accept the writ of the state, but that’s against the dynamics of any armed group; they won’t dismember themselves and go home peacefully

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  • Sep 30, 2011 - 2:48PM

    once again succumbing to the military pressure and the likes of Imran khan .. talking to whom? to those who are hell bent on destroying the country? Talibs knows and wants nothing less then the reins of this country and turning it back into the stone age.
    .
    This meeting, i thought was convened for charting out a way to deal with the foreign relations and countries and how to stop hurting other from our soilRecommend

  • S e n o r
    Sep 30, 2011 - 3:57PM

    @Amazed

    Taliban introduce Shariah… You mean their version of Shariah, or rather their tribal laws which they claim are Shariah… Let’s see how you feel if a woman in your family is lashed or publically flogged. Please stop supporting Terrorists and their actions. Thanks!

    Recommend

  • Ch Allah Daad
    Sep 30, 2011 - 5:28PM

    Nawaz Sharif was the only shining star, others were chorus boys including great Khan, singing the song. America’s name is not even mentioned in written statement, they have no courage to mention it in black and white.Recommend

  • khurram kaleem
    Sep 30, 2011 - 6:20PM

    The best of the best leader is Nawaz sharif who is a threat to establishment and all phonies politician like imran khan.

    PMLN is the only party which calls spade a spade .Recommend

  • Balma
    Sep 30, 2011 - 6:32PM

    Where was MQM during this important meeting? If people like Sunni Itehad Tehrik were there, where was MQM?Recommend

  • Salim
    Sep 30, 2011 - 6:36PM

    All Parties Confrence (APC). What did it achieve? Zero plus Zero equals Zero.
    Recommend

  • Nazeer Ahmed
    Sep 30, 2011 - 9:19PM

    Government has taken a very wise step to call all parties conference. Politics of reconciliation proved that it is best political strategy to face the current challenges. It is not the first time but since PPP came into rule it took all parties on board on every crucial issues threatening Pakistan’s sovereignty. It is very clear to international community and USA that we stand unite for the safety, security and sovereignty of Pakistan. It sends a clear vibe to the anti democratic and anti Pakistan elements that any adventure against democracy and Pakistan could cast high. Furthermore, it has given a clear edge to Government to negotiate or take any decision with full confidence with complete support of Pakistan public and politicians. I laud the efforts of the Government to take all the political parties on same page for the better decision.

    Recommend

  • nasir
    Sep 30, 2011 - 10:01PM

    With such negative sentiments of pakistanis, no one can save the country.shame on all of them.

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  • Sep 30, 2011 - 10:41PM

    What is the source and rule of law in Pakistan ? Electorate vote or AK-47 and RPG ?

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  • ali
    Sep 30, 2011 - 11:11PM

    Talk is the only solution. America is talking, UK talked to IRA, USA talked to HoChiMin in Vietnam before the war ended.

    Recommend

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