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Pakistan Parties Back Talks With Taliban

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (file photo)
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (file photo)
A government-sponsored conference of major political parties in Pakistan has endorsed negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban.

The meeting on September 9 called on Islamabad to review its national security strategy "in the context of an independent foreign policy, with a focus on peace and reconciliation."

The conference termed U.S. drone strikes as "detrimental" to Islamabad's "efforts of eliminating extremism and terrorism." It asked Islamabad to consult the United Nations because the attacks are a "violation of the international law."

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the head of the military, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, briefed key politicians representing more than a dozen major political parties.

After assuming office in June, Sharif said he supported talks instead of military operations to bring about peace.

Sharif now has the political backing to negotiate with the militants, but Taliban elements have repeatedly said that they have no interest in talking to his administration.

In addition, the Pakistani Taliban consists of disparate radical groups, some of which are composed of Central Asians and Arabs. The militant movement continues to control large swaths of territory in northwestern Pakistani tribal regions.

Similar conferences in the past have failed to unite the restive nation behind a robust counter-terrorism strategy.
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