Carrying forward the All Parties Conference mandate to “give peace a chance'', Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday night announced that his government was ready to talk to all “militant groups'' provided they “decommissioned'' themselves.

Speaking to a select group of journalists in Lahore, Mr. Gilani said: “If negotiations fail to work, the government will launch military operations in the tribal areas.'' However, he did not get into specifics particularly vis-à-vis a military operation in North Waziristan where the Haqqani network — accused by the U.S. of attacking American targets in Afghanistan — is said to be based.

Providing the contours of the process that the government proposes to initiate, he said: “We will not ask them to disarm before the negotiations since this is against the tribal culture. However, the political agents of the tribal agencies will ask them to decommission themselves.''

Essentially, what the government proposes to do is follow the Swat example where a peace deal was offered to militants in 2009 before launching military operations when the Taliban did not honour their end of the bargain.

However, this option is viewed with considerable scepticism because in the past when such peace deals were struck, the terrorists took advantage of the agreement to strengthen their hold over the area.

Meanwhile, the BBC quoted Haqqani network's Sirajudin Haqqani as denying any role in the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani as has been alleged by the Karzai government.

He also told the BBC's Pashto service that the Haqqani network had no links with the ISI.

Admitting that the mujahideen fighters had contacts with intelligence agencies of Pakistan and other countries during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the younger Haqqani said these were snapped after the U.S. invasion. Further, according to him, the Haqqanis “have been contacted and are being contacted by intelligence agencies of many Islamic and non-Islamic countries including the U.S. asking us to leave the sacred jihad and take an important part in the current government''.

Of the view that the aim of these intelligence agencies is not peace but to create tension among the “Emirate's mujahideen'', he described attempts to link the Haqqani network to the ISI as a bid to ‘hide their failure and confuse people''.

As for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last month, he said it was ordered by the Islamic Emirate which was the name given to Afghanistan by the Taliban when in power.

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