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Pakistan's conference on terrorism, Taliban talks start in Islamabad

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Feb 14, IRNA -- Senior political and religious leaders in Pakistan on Thursday started a day-long conference to formulate a joint stand against terrorism, organizers said.

Top leaders of nearly 27 parties are taking part in the closed-doors All Parties Conference in Islamabad, who will issue a joint communiqué later in the evening, organizers said.

The Pashtoon nationalist group 'Awami National Party’ or ANP, which rules the militancy-hit northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, had called the conference days after the Taliban killed the party’s senior Minister, Bashir Ahmad Bilour last month.

“We have to adopt a collective strategy to overcome the problem of terrorism,” the ANP Chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan told the conference in his opening remarks.

He said terrorism is not the problem of present government only‚ rather it will also be problem for the coming governments. He said the purpose of the conference is to learn from the collective wisdom of political leaders.

Khan said no formal agenda has been set for the conference and it would take into consideration the proposals and suggestions‚ on the basis of which a final declaration will be issued.

Only two main parties – the hardliner Islamic group ‘Jamaat-e-Islami’ and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf or Justice Movement, led by cricketer-turned politician, Imran Khan, had stayed away from the conference. They said the ANP want to use the moot for political motives.

Organizers said the conference will also discuss and come up with a joint response to the Taliban conditional dialogue offer.

Pakistani Taliban in a video interview offered talks to the security forces on February 4. The government has asked the Taliban leadership to declare a ceasefire first before the talks are to be started.

The Taliban have so far refused to announce ceasefire and also attacked a police station in the northwest early Thursday, just hours before the conference started in Islamabad.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, major opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and dozens of other key parties are attending the conference.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 1066882

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