Militants must surrender arms before talks, says Malik


The government will only hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents if they lay down their arms first, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Tuesday, after both sides signalled willingness to consider negotiations. “The minimum agenda is that they give up arms and come forward and then there will be talks. But if they think they will keep Kalashnikovs in their hands and also hold talks, that will not happen,” he told reporters.
Both sides have indicated recently they were open to talks, but analysts are sceptical the Taliban will ultimately agree.
Malik refused to disclose which militants he was talking about. Asked whether these reconciliation messages were coming from the Taliban or Baloch rebels, he replied, “It is purely confidential.”
“The prime minister has also clearly stated that reconciliation is possible only with those who lay down their arms,” he added.
Malik said anti-peace forces were involved in hatching conspiracies to destabilise the country.
To another question, he said he had written a letter to the Punjab chief secretary to detain Ishaq Malik of a banned organisation and arrest nine of his associates.
The interior minister said Ishaq had been detained and further action was being taken in this regard.
He said the government was aware of the reported flying of NATO jets over Pakistani areas bordering Afghanistan, adding that violation of Pakistani space was being noted with observation of International Set Procedure. He said no one would be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan.
Malik said he was visiting Quetta on the instructions of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. “Issues of pilgrims travel to Iran, sectarianism, border surveillance and other law and order related matters will be reviewed during my Quetta visit,” the interior minister said.
He said the Afghanistan militia damaged Pakistani checkpost in Chaman, adding steps were being taken to enhance surveillance in border areas.
He said targeted killing of citizens in Quetta had been decreased with effective measures taken by the government.