Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says the Taliban will have to renounce terrorism if peace talks are to move forward.
The Prime Minister said, “we evolved a consensus… on a joint strategy to put an end to terrorism in Pakistan [through peace talks].”
The Prime Minister told the Wall Street Journal during his first visit to New York after being elected in May, that the Taliban offered a dialogue themselves and the political parties decided to respond to their offer positively. However, he added that the Taliban will have to renounce terrorism.
“They will have to say they are keen to do business with the government. They will have to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan. We’re also waiting for their response, what they have to say in this regard,” he said.
“If we agree on addressing this terrorism, (Taliban) will have to be disarmed, lay down their arms,” the Prime Minister added, but made it clear that while the government wanted a peaceful resolution, it hinged on the Taliban laying down their arms and accepting the Constitution.
On a question about dialogue with India, Nawaz Sharif said that he will be having a meeting with the Indian prime minister here in the next few days, adding that his government stood for peaceful resolution of all issues with India, including Kashmir.
The Prime Minister said that both the countries were spending a lot of money and resources building up their defense.
Asserting that the US drone strikes were counter productive, he said, “the more the drones, the more the terrorists get multiplied. You kill one man, his sons, his father, his brothers, they become terrorists. So this is something that is not helping at all.”
He said that he plans on taking the matter up with President Obama in their forthcoming meeting.
To a question about Iran gas pipeline he said Pakistan will pursue Iran gas pipeline project to met the country’s energy requirements.
Nawaz Sharif said that the previous government had signed an agreement with Iran on the gas pipeline and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led government needed to proceed with it.
“There will be a $3 million daily penalty from Iran if that’s not completed by the end of next year,” he said, adding that the only way they could retract from the agreement was if the US provided gas or the daily $3 million penalty.
“There is an acute shortage of gas in Pakistan, so we have to import gas from somewhere,” he said.