News / Asia

Sharif Calls for Peace Talks With Pakistani Taliban

Pakistan's incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses his party's newly elected MPs in Lahore on May 20, 2013
Pakistan's incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses his party's newly elected MPs in Lahore on May 20, 2013
Ayaz Gul
— Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif, who is set to become prime minister for a third time after his party won recent parliamentary elections, on Monday called for peace talks with domestic Taliban extremists, saying “this is the best option” to fight militancy.

Addressing newly elected federal and provincial lawmakers of his Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party in Lahore, Sharif described terrorism as “the most serious challenge” facing the country.
 
Without eliminating this “menace” and establishing peace in Pakistan, he added, attempts to revive the national economy and overcome a deepening energy crisis will not succeed.  
 
The presumptive prime minister has in the past favored peace talks between the militants and the government, but Monday’s statement was the first time he has done so publicly since his party scored a resounding victory in May 11 national elections.  
 
Sharif says he has long called for resolving the issue of militancy through peaceful negotiations because using “guns and bullets only” can never be a solution to the problem. The “offer should be taken seriously,” he says, if Taliban militants are ready to engage in a peace dialogue with the government.  
 
He was referring to a recent offer of peace talks by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, which is an alliance of Islamist groups waging a bloody insurgency against the Pakistani state.
 
Sharif says that the bloody war has killed more than 40,000 Pakistanis and caused billions of dollars in losses to the national economy.
 
He says there is nothing wrong in sitting across the table and engaging in talks with militants. “If it can help bring peace to the country, in my view it is the best option,” the former prime minister added.
 
Pakistan’s partnership in the U.S.-led counter-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan and military offensive against Taliban bases in the northwestern border regions over the past decade has prompted retaliatory suicide and other terrorist attacks in the country.  
 
Recent media reports quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying they may declare a ceasefire if the Sharif party demonstrated seriousness in holding peace talks.
 
Critics are skeptical about the success of any future talks between Pakistani authorities and the Taliban. Previous peace deals with the militants, they say, have only allowed the insurgents to regroup.
 
Sharif is seen as a conservative Muslim and has always enjoyed the support of right-wing forces in the country.  His party is expected to form a stable government at the federal level and in two of the country’s four provinces, including Punjab, the power base of Pakistan.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid