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    Pakistan Renews Call for Dialogue With Taliban


    by NTDTelevision

    Pakistan says it's willing to negotiate with Taliban militants - if they're ready to stop fighting. It comes after a Muslim shrine was attacked last Thursday, killing 42 people.

    On Monday, Pakistan's government has renewed its call for talks with Taliban militants who were ready to renounce violence.

    The government is under fresh pressure to deliver stability, after two suicide bombers killed at least 42 people and wounded 175 last Thursday.

    The suicide bombers struck Pakistan's most important Sufi shrine, in the eastern city of Lahore.

    It is the second major attack in a month on Pakistan's cultural hub and traditional seat of power - Punjab Province.

    Last month, Pakistani Taliban attacked two Lahore mosques belonging to the Muslim, Ahmadi minority group, killing more than 80 people and wounding more than 100.

    Information Minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira, says the government welcomes negotiations with the militants, under the right conditions.

    [Qamar Zaman Kaira, Information Minister]: (male, Urdu)
    "We never backed out on negotiations; we think that negotiations are the important part of any process…But one thing which is very clear is that they will have to accept the right of the state and surrender before the government.”

    The Taliban has shown no sign of entering into negotiations since the military launched a series of crackdowns in April 2009.

    Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, is urging political parties and religious leaders to help the state and army, calling for a national conference to formulate a strategy to combat terrorism.

    For the shrine attacks, officials have blamed "Punjabi Taliban" – Punjab Province militants who have ganged up with Taliban in the northwest and forged ties with al Qaeda.


    Taliban militants may have been attacking sacred religious sites in a bid to destabilize Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of power that Washington sees as critical in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.