Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday distanced the government from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s participation in the Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar.
Talking to reporters at the Lahore airport, Malik said the JUI-F chief was no longer an ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party government and was taking part in the Doha talks ‘in his personal capacity’.
“Fazlur Rehman is the head of an independent party… the government does not have any business in his negotiations with the [Afghan] Taliban or any other stakeholder.”
Meanwhile, talking about Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) offer of peace talks, Malik said the government would contemplate the offer if the banned outfit gave up violence.
“Whenever TTP feels weak, they offer to negotiate… they are not serious about peace talks,” he said, adding that even the opposition leaders TTP had asked to act as guarantors have given the government no surety.
Malik suggested an all parties conference for devising a strategy on dealing with TTP, either through negotiations or other means.
While reaffirming the government’s resolve to hold general elections on time, the Interior Minister warned that the ministry expected severe terrorist threats during polls and maintained that it might end up delaying them.
Talking about Minhajul Quran International chief Tahirul Qadri, Malik claimed he was being supported by elements who wanted to delay the elections. He said that while the Supreme Court will hear Qadri’s petition today (Monday) and decide whether to issue an interim order or reject it, the media should avoid creating doubts about the election schedule.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.
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