Talking peace: Religious parties demand release of non-combatants

Published: April 4, 2014
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JI chief Syed Munawwar Hasan. PHOTO: NNI

JI chief Syed Munawwar Hasan. PHOTO: NNI

PESHAWAR: 

A conference organised by the provincial chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Thursday asked the government and the Taliban to release all non-combatants, women and children to make ground for furthering peace talks and to extend the ceasefire agreement.

A declaration read out by JI provincial information secretary Israrullah Khan hailed peace talks and condemned those forces who want to sabotage them. The statement also called upon the government to expedite its efforts to achieve peace in the wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Moreover, the government was asked to take serious steps to compensate Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for the financial and human losses it has borne during the past decade owing to the ongoing conflict.

The declaration stated that lawlessness, terrorism and military operations have damaged infrastructure in K-P and the tribal areas, and pressed the federal and provincial governments to take special steps for its revival.

The peace conference was attended by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq, JI Ameer Syed Munawar Hassan, soon-to-be JI chief Sirajul Haq and other leaders from various political parties.

Addressing the conference, Samiul Haq said problems existed on both the Taliban’s side as well as the government’s. He asked the “powers that be” and the media not to even think of a military operation and said if war was a tool to achieve peace, the US would not have been leaving the region bruised and defeated. He said in case of a military operation, the Taliban will take cover in the mountains, whereas the cities and towns of Pakistan will have to bear the brunt of war.

Continuing with the peace mantra, Munawar Hassan said the use of force, be it in erstwhile East Pakistan, Balochistan, Karachi or tribal areas, was never a good option and creates a wedge between the government and its people. He also called for a reassessment of the country’s foreign policy in light of joint parliamentary resolutions. Hassan also asked the government to desist from interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and said peace in both countries was tied together.

The JI ameer-elect Sirajul Haq said wrong policies pursued over a decade have laid waste to the region and termed negotiations a glimmer of peace. He said religious parties were against military operations from day one but no one paid any heed to them. Haq proposed that talks between the Taliban and the government should be held in Islamabad and if that was not possible then the coalition government of K-P can facilitate them if so requested by the centre.

He too demanded a financial package on the pattern of the Aghaaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan Package for K-P and Fata.

Meanwhile, JUI-F vice chief Maulana Attaur Rehman questioned the composition of the negotiating committees and said the government has appointed bureaucrats to represent it while the Taliban have appointed politicians to represent them.

He said all political parties were not being taken onboard with regards to peace talks, adding the key to their success was with someone else and asked the establishment and the government to take negotiations seriously.

Representatives of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami National Party and Qaumi Watan Party, among others, spoke on the occasion. However, no member of the Pakistan Peoples Party was present.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2014.

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