Gilani ready for talks with Taliban

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that his government is ready to start parleys with Taliban, but evaded questions whether the reconciliation would include the Haqqani faction.

For the first time, Gilani dropped his earlier pre-condition of militants giving up arms before any talks, but warned that if the parleys fail to work, the military will launch operations in the tribal areas.

"If negotiations fail to work, the government will launch military operations in the tribal areas," he told a small group of journalists at his residence in Lahore last night.

Gilani provided details about how the talks would be conducted for the first time, days after a meeting of Pakistan`s political parties called for peace talks to end unrest in the militancy-hit tribal belt.

"We will not ask them (militants) to disarm before the negotiations since this is against the tribal culture.

However, the political agents (government administrators in the tribal regions) will ask them to decommission themselves," he was quoted as saying in media reports today.

The proposed talks will be monitored by a parliamentary committee to ensure transparency and civilian oversight of the process, he said. "We want to give peace a chance now…The national interest is above everything, we will give people a chance to reconcile."

Asked whether the Haqqani network ? blamed by the US for high-profile terror attacks in Afghanistan ? would be part of the reconciliation, Gilani evaded a direct answer and said a parliamentary committee would implement resolutions passed on such issues by parliament and the All Parties Conference (APC) that was held on September 29.