Pakistan still keen on Taliban talks despite attacks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is still keen to pursue dialogue with Taliban militants, the government’s top national security adviser said Thursday, despite a spate of bloody attacks in the country’s northwest.

Three bombings in the space of a week in the city of Peshawar killed more than 140 people, most of them civilians.

The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group has denied responsibility for the attacks, which included a double suicide bombing on a church, and claimed a conspiracy to thwart the talks was afoot.

Sartaj Aziz, adviser on national security and foreign affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said talks should be given a chance.

“Despite these incidents the dialogue option should be pursued, because the Taliban are many groups and many of them have said they do want to pursue dialogue,” he told reporters.

“There are some elements who want to disrupt the dialogue but the whole purpose of the dialogue is to put an end to such incidents.”

Aziz’s remarks came a day after the TTP said it would only consider a government ceasefire to be valid if it included an end to US drone strikes in the tribal areas, where it has strongholds.