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Pakistani Government Calls On Militants To Disarm Before Talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

The Pakistani government says Islamist militants must disarm before there can be any dialogue with Islamabad.

A high-profile meeting of civilian and military leaders on August 22 made the statement after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared terrorism an "existential threat" to Pakistan on August 19.

The meeting also decided to recreate a "National Security Council" to deal with the security challenges Pakistan is facing.

Earlier in the day, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander welcomed Sharif's August 19 offer to hold peace talks.

In a statement, Asmatullah Muawiya praised the prime minister for "demonstrating political maturity" by reiterating his offer to hold peace negotiations.

It was not clear whether any other top Pakistani Taliban leaders share Muawiya's views.

Muawiya is the leader of a Pakistani Taliban faction from eastern province of Punjab.

Based on reporting by, ap, and