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Pakistani religious leaders seek ceasefire

Posted on Feb 15 2014 | IANS

Islamabad, Feb 15 : Pakistan's senior religious leaders Saturday urged the Taliban militants and the government to immediately declare a ceasefire for the success of the ongoing peace dialogue.

The leaders from different schools of thought, who met in the eastern city of Lahore, said that dialogue was the only solution to the current crisis in the country, Xinhua reported.

The conference, attended by nearly 50 senior leaders and religious scholars, urged both sides not to create problems in any possible peace agreement.

"We appeal to both the government and the Taliban to immediately announce a ceasefire. Cessation of violent acts by both sides will push the peace process forward," a joint statement issued at the day-long conference said.

The statement read out by head of the Taliban dialogue committee, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, at a news conference warned that military operation would cause more destruction and could put the national security at risk.

The appeal came following a recent wave of attacks that raised doubts over the success of the talks.

The Taliban Thursday attacked a police bus in Karachi and killed at least 13 police officers and injured nearly 30 others. A Taliban spokesman had defended the attack as there was no formal ceasefire.

The attacks were widely condemned in the country and some political leaders said that talks and violence cannot continue simultaneously.

"We announce a complete support for the dialogue process between the Taliban and the government and are confident that the process will yield positive results," Saturday's statement said

The leaders regretted that previous governments over the past 15 years did not take serious steps to end war in the country and the people are tired of killings and destructions.

"Taliban are sons of the country and the people expect them to give up arms and work in a peaceful way," the statement said.

The religious leaders said that certain elements in the country and outside Pakistan are bent upon sabotaging the peace talks and the Taliban and the government should foil all these conspiracies.

The statement also called upon the government to quit the international coalition on war on terror and review foreign policy.

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