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Pakistani PM Pushes For Taliban Peace Talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (left) speaks in parliament in Islamabad on January 29.
Pakistan's prime minister has quashed speculation he would launch an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, vowing that instead his government will pursue peace talks.

In an address to parliament on January 29, Nawaz Sharif named a four-member committee to facilitate the negotiations, while calling on the militants to observe a cease-fire.

He also condemned the Taliban for targeting security forces and civilians in recent months.

Sharif said he was making a "sincere effort to end the cruel game of fire and gunpowder in the country."

Sharif's speech came amid growing calls for a full-fledged military assault against militants.

On January 27, Sharif chaired a meeting with lawmakers from his party, who called for a military offensive.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban has continued its attacks.

Three members of the security forces were killed in separate attacks in the southern city of Karachi, for which a Pakistani Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

In the first attack, assailants threw a grenade at a vehicle carrying paramilitary troops, killing one of them. Minutes later, a roadside bomb in the same area wounded three security personnel.

In another, later attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the paramilitary Rangers headquarters, killing at least one Ranger and a security guard.

Karachi, a city of 18 million people, has been plagued by ethnic, sectarian, and political violence for years.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP