ISLAMABAD: Amidst an upsurge in militant violence, the government doesn’t rule out dialogue as part of its counter-terrorism strategy.
“The door to dialogue should be kept open at all times,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told lawmakers from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday.
“We have no option but to vigorously pursue a well-planned and coordinated strategy to find a meaningful solution to the problem of terrorism,” he said, adding that peace was important for economic growth.
Listing elimination of terrorism as his priority, the premier said his government would evolve consensus on the proposed national security policy. “Pakistan has suffered long at the hands of terrorism … we cannot afford inaction anymore,” he added.
Nawaz expressed his sympathies for the people of Fata, who have suffered immensely due to lawlessness and economic backwardness in their region. The tribal people’s woes stem from terrorism, he said, adding that he wanted to ‘gift peace’ to the people of the area.
At the same time, the premier stressed that the people of Fata were the real stakeholders and no roadmap for peace in the region could be finalised without their input.
Various proposals put forth by the Fata lawmakers for the development of the region were also discussed during the meeting. Responding to the suggestions, the prime minister expressed his resolve to restore peace in the region and introduce policies and projects which would help the tribesmen to play a constructive role at the national level.
Sources privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that the Fata parliamentarians urged the prime minister to take firm measures to secure the area ahead of the withdrawal of US-led Nato forces from Afghanistan in 2014. They feared that the security situation in the region would become even more volatile following the US troop pullout.
According to sources, Prime Minister Nawaz assured the lawmakers that he would take all possible steps, in consultation with the military, to secure the region from expected militant infiltration from Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.