DAWN, ISLAMABAD, 07th OCTOBER 2013: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said here on Sunday that the government would fully support Ulema’s efforts for peace through talks with militants.
“The PML-N government highly values recent efforts made by renowned religious scholars to find a comprehensive and long-lasting solution to the issue (of terrorism),” he said in a “policy statement” issued by the Ministry of Interior.
He noted with satisfaction that the Ulema had themselves taken the initiative and said: “…We want to see their efforts for peace succeeding.”
The statement was apparently issued in response to a declaration issued by a meeting of Ulema and representatives of religious seminaries functioning under Wafaqul Madaris welcoming the government’s initiative to hold peace talks with Taliban.
In the “consultative meeting” held on Sept 30 in Islamabad the Ulema expressed concern over “civil war-like situation” in the country and appealed to both the government and Taliban to observe a ceasefire till completion of peace process.
A spokesman for the Wafaqul Madaris Abdul Quddoos had told Dawn that the organisation was willing to play mediator’s role in peace process, but at the same time, he said he worried that in the past the establishment “used our shoulders but did what it had already decided.”
He said the Wafaqul Madaris had played a mediatory role during the Lal Masjid fiasco in 2007 and later in Swat, but on both occasions its efforts were thwarted by use of military force at the end.
“This time we do not want to put our reputation at stake”, he said.
Claiming that his organisation had no links with Taliban, he said that it would try to establish contacts with the three stakeholders — the government, army and Taliban — for the sake of peace.
Expressing grief over the loss of innocent lives in recent incidents of terrorism, the Ulema said the government and Taliban had agreed to talk which was a satisfactory development.
The minister claimed that the government enjoyed support of the armed forces which wanted the government’s efforts for peace to succeed.
He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had repeatedly stated that use of force should be avoided in quest for peace.
He said that the government had a clear stance on drone strikes and Mr Sharif was the first head of the government over the past nine years to have opposed the attacks in the UN General Assembly.