PESHAWAR: Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan has advised the federal government to hold ‘meaningful’ talks with Taliban insurgents to restore peace in the country and use force if the talks fail to produce desired results.
The menace of militancy has eaten into the fabric of the society and, therefore, the federal government should take steps to eradicate terrorism.
The ANP chief was speaking at a condolence reference for Bashir Ahmad Bilour, Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa’s recently slain senior minister, at Nishtar Hall here on Monday.
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), home to terrorists, came under the jurisdiction of the federal government, which had the authority to negotiate with the Taliban, he said.
Because the KP government had no role to play in Fata affairs, Mr Khan said, the federal government should work for an agreement for peace in tribal areas.
Political parties could only resist terrorism and it is the responsibility of the state to sort out the matter.
The ANP, he said, did not want Taliban militants to lay down arms, but only to renounce violence and take the path of dialogue.
The anti-state elements want to bring about a change with violence and plan to implement their agenda through terrorism which is not at all acceptable.
A change is possible only through ballot, and not bullets. Mr Khan urged the extremists to hold talks with the government. He said his party did not want postponement of general elections because of the problem of militancy. Delaying polls will be disastrous for the country.
The assassination of ANP’s senior leader Bashir Bilour, he said, would not weaken their resolve to combat terrorism. “It is a misconception that the party will abandon its principled stand against militancy after Mr Bilour’s brutal murder.”
Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the ANP president would meet the president and the prime minister to exchange views on the issue of talks with the militants to stop bomb blasts and suicide attacks, which were killing innocent people.
The ANP workers, he said, stood like a rock against militancy and their struggle would continue till restoration of peace. He said the ANP had a long history of sacrifices rendered by its workers and leaders for the sake of peace. “We are proud of the sacrifices.”
The death of Mr Bilour was the latest in the endless series of killings of party cadre by extremists. However, he said, his death had not demoralised the party workers but strengthened their morale to combat terrorism even with more determination. The blood of ANP workers in fight against terrorism would not go in vain but would bear fruit in near future, he said.