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The Dawn

Published Date: Feb 25, 2014

Government weighing options on Taliban issue

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National
Security Sartaj Aziz said on Monday that government was consulting other
stakeholders on dealing with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

"Obviously recent attacks have adversely affected the
process of talks with the TTP. We are considering different options after the
unfortunate incidents," he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of
a seminar.

The military has pounded terrorist hideouts in tribal areas
and Hangu district after talks were suspended in the aftermath of killing of 23
kidnapped Frontier Corps soldiers who were in the captivity of the Taliban.

According to security forces, almost 90 suspected militants
have been killed in the strikes in Mirali, Datta Khel, Bara, Tirah and Thall
since Wednesday. However, the claim has not been verified.

Mr Aziz said the government was consulting other political
parties on the issue. In reply to a question, he said consultations were about
the options of a full-scale military operation or limited aerial strikes. But,
he added, the option of dialogue with militants would not be closed.

"Establishing the writ of the state and restoring peace is
our ultimate objective," he said.

The federal cabinet in a meeting on Tuesday will be briefed
on the consultations that have taken place so far.

About the killing of FC soldiers, he said the issue had been
discussed with the Afghan government and it was investigating reports that the
soldiers had been killed on its soil.

Islamabad had provided the Afghan government the
“information” it had asked for, the adviser said.