Pakistan's ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has initiated "unofficial talks" with the Taliban in a bid to chalk out a peace formula and end the violence in the country since 2001 that has claimed thousands of lives, a media report said Saturday.
“Unofficial talks between the government side and Taliban are in progress,” the Dawn newspaper Saturday quoted Pakistan's Information Minister Pervez Rashid as saying.
Stating that the government was exploring all options to bring about lasting peace in the country, he also endorsed a statement by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) leader Maulana Fazlur that a formula had been worked out to have formal talks between the government and the Taliban within a month.
According to the report, Maulana Fazlur had told the media in parliament that “a forum comprising authoritative and responsible people was being formed for holding talks with Taliban within a month”.
However, it is still not sure with which group of the Taliban the government is planning to hold talks.
“I cannot say with which group of Taliban we are holding talks because today we are talking with two groups and if another group wants to join we will welcome it too,” minister Rashid told Dawn.
“We have to rid the country of the menace of terrorism for which all options would be utilised,” he added.
He said though the opposition is consulted in all formal and informal meetings on such matters, no opposition leader has been included in the forum.
Leaders of major opposition parties including the PPP, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Awami National Party and the PML-Q have supported the decision to hold talks with militants, the newspaper report said.
A senior Taliban leader was quoted as telling the BBC's Urdu Service that initial contacts have been established to hold talks between the government and the militants.