Pakistan says dialogue first, force last option against militants

Other News Materials 23 July 2008 23:23 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistan said on Wednesday it favoured dialogue to deal with the problem of rising Islamic militancy, but warned that no one would be allowed to use its soil to attack a foreign country, dpa reported.

"The dialogue is our first priority. We will rehabilitate and bring into mainstream all those people who are ready to lay down weapons," said Information Minister Sheri Rehman after a meeting of the country's ruling coalition and the military leadership.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, was held to devise a strategy to deal with the growing militancy in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and parts of nearby North-West Frontier Province.

"The consensus was reached that a security operation or the use of force would be our last option but no one would be allowed to challenge the authority of the state or use Pakistani soil to launch attacks on any foreign country," Rehamn added.

Th coalition government launched peace talks with militants in tribal region, which has sanctuaries of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters launching cross border attacks on US-led forces into Afghanistan, through tribal elders after it took over in March.

The move has been welcomed with suspicions by Washington which believes the pro-Taliban militants would use the peace process to re- organize themselves.

But Rehman said terrorism and militancy are Pakistan's own problems and it is trying to solve these in its own way.