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Guns are no solution, talks a better option: Sharif

May 20, 2013 22:29 IST

Prime minister-designate Nawaz Sharif, known for being soft towards militant groups, on Monday said the Pakistani Taliban's offer of talks should be taken seriously because the problem of militancy cannot be solved through the use of power and bullets.

Addressing newly elected parliamentarians and legislators of his Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz party at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal hall in Lahore, Sharif stressed the need to respond to the Taliban's offer.

"Guns and bullets are no solution to problems. Talks are a better option," he said.

Sharif contended that every issue cannot be solved through the use of power and bullets.

"We have lost many lives, our economy is deteriorating. If the Taliban offer us an option for dialogue, we should take it seriously. Why can't we talk to the Taliban to make our country peaceful," he said.

The PML-N chief's remarks were a clear indication that his government intends to frame a new policy for the war on terrorism.

On Saturday, Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held a three-hour-long meeting with Sharif and discussed security issues, including the campaign against militants.

During that meeting, Sharif conveyed his views on the ongoing war on terrorism and military operations against militants to Kayani, sources said.

Sharif, 63, is set to become the premier for an unprecedented third time following the PML-N's victory in the May 11 general elections.

His detractors have long alleged that the PML-N is soft towards militant groups.

Earlier this year, the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban had offered peace talks to the previous Pakistan Peoples Party-led government and named Sharif as one of three politicians who could act as guarantors for the process.

The Taliban subsequently withdrew the offer, saying it had not been taken seriously by the PPP.

Though Sharif had shown no interest in acting as the guarantor, he had urged the PPP-led government to seriously take up the offer for talks without any delay.

At the time, Sharif had said, "There is a need to take the Taliban's offer of talks seriously because the people of Pakistan want peace. I ask the government to initiate result-oriented peace talks with the Taliban without any delay as military operations are no solution to any problem".

During his address to the newly elected lawmakers on Monday, Sharif described the energy crisis as the biggest challenge faced by Pakistan.

He said he would not set any deadline for ending power outages though the PML-N would try to control the problem as soon as possible.

The people would come to know the direction of the PML-N government during its first 100 days in power, he said.

"Rather, in 30 days, you will see that we are heading in the right direction," he said.

Improving the economy was linked to overcoming the energy crisis, he added.

Sharif said he was set to become premier for the third time by the will of God.

"We are running short of time as we have to complete the work of years in months, and of months in days," he said.

In an apparent reference to protests in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf over alleged rigging in the polls, Sharif said the PML-N's mandate should be accepted by other parties and the trend of sending elected governments packing by taking to the streets should end.

Sharif said he had accepted the mandate of the PPP and MQM in Sindh and PTI in Kyber-Pakhtankhwa.

"We could have formed the government in Kyber-Pakhtankhwa but we respected the mandate of the Tehrik-e-Insaf," he said.

The PML-N will not discriminate while serving the people of Sindh and Kyber-Pakhtankhwa, he said.

"I think all day and night about changing the destiny of the country," Sharif said.

He also complained that President Asif Ali Zardari had not yet congratulated him on the success of the PML-N.

M Zulqernain In Lahore
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