Confirming that the army was on the same page as the government on the issue of talks with the Taliban, Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani on Saturday said the army fully supported the government’s move for a dialogue to end terrorism.
Addressing the passing-out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul, he said the government had to decide the framework of the talks. The dialogue should bring about unity, not division and must be pursued within the Constitutional purview, he said.
However, he added that the use of force to end terrorism was a last resort but one that the army was fully prepared for. It had played a role in curbing terrorism in the past, he said, dismissing allegations that it was supporting talks because past operations had failed.
Importantly, General Kayani said Pakistan was passing through a critical phase and the military leadership must play a role of strengthening the democratic system. Terrorism, he said, was against Pakistan’s ideology and Islam.
General Kayani, who is due to retire next month, had earlier scotched rumours about an extension. During the recent All Parties Conference it was reported that the army, the government and political parties were on the same page as far as dialogue with the Taliban was concerned. The talks have since been derailed by bomb blasts, but the government is determined not to let go of the dialogue option.