ISLAMABAD - Top politicians of the country on Thursday extended full backing to the efforts to initiate dialogue with the Taliban.

The political leaders of almost all the parties except Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) gathered here at the Convention Centre to participate in an all-party conference (APC) convened by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).

They drew out a five-point joint declaration calling upon the Grand Jirga to start dialogue with Taliban and asking the government to provide necessary support and enabling environment to ensure peace ahead of the general elections.

Besides lending support to the Grand Jirga for its peace efforts, the APC in its joint declaration proposed certain steps in this regard. It said “the number of members of the already formed Grand Jirga be increased and the people from all schools of thought be included”.

“Practical steps should be taken to get rid of lawlessness across Pakistan and this APC supports any dialogue which could restore the writ of constitution and law of the land,” the declaration said, adding that all the participants of the APC, including tribal elders, announce that the incumbent government, the caretaker setup and the next government would be bound to follow the APC proposals.

It further proposes that a trust be established to fund and look after the families of those martyred and injured in terrorism incidents. The Grand Jirga should initiate talks with the parties concerned in guidance of all the political and religious parties, it added.

Reading out the five-point joint declaration after the moot, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman said that the implementation over the APC proposals would start from ‘today’. Fazl said that all the parties had backed the joint declaration. He said the APC fully supports the dialogue with Taliban by a grand jirga. However, he did not said if the top political leaders including Nawaz Sharif, Munawwar Hassan and he himself would also go along with the jirga members to meet with Taliban delegation.

Earlier addressing the daylong conference, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said that government should give positive response to Taliban offer for dialogue as peace is imperative for the development of any country. “All the parties should play their positive role by setting aside their difference as it is need of the hour to save Pakistan,” he said, appreciating the sacrifices of tribal people and assuring the tribal elders the sincere support of all the parties participating in the moot.

Nawaz said law and order situation is not satisfactory and it needs to be improved without any delay. An APC under the chairmanship of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was organised but sadly its declaration was not implemented, Nawaz regretted. He said the report of Abbottabad Commission is yet to be made public and situation of country’s economy, security and foreign loans is getting worse day by day.

President of ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Amin Fahim assured that his party would support steps taken for the peace as per the law and constitution. He said the PPP believed in democracy, rule of law and it had taken concrete measure for the welfare of people of the country. He further said that his party had also become victim of terrorism as party leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a terrorist attack.

Addressing in Pushto, tribal elder Qadir Khan said that people of tribal areas suffered a lot and called for stooping military operation in those areas. “If we are atomic power, then why we are afraid of any one,” he said, adding that tribal people should be given their right and drone attacks should be stopped. PML-Q) chief Chaudhary Shujaat Husain cursed those who called tribal people terrorists. “When I was prime minister, I invited political and army leadership for a peace conference. There could be peace in the country if the proposals of that conference are implemented,” he added.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Munawar Hasan said that the offer of the Taliban for peace dialogue should be accepted. “Wars can be won by dialogues,” he said, adding that it was need of the hour to convene this conference as situation is worsening with each passing day. Tehreek-Tehfiz Pakistan chief Dr Qadir also supported accepting Taliban talks offer. “It should be taken seriously and the matter should be deliberated on by setting aside all the differences,” he added.

ANP senior leader Afrasiab Khatak said that this APC was one step forward of their initiative for peace. He stressed the need for concrete measures in this regard. Muahammad Ahmed Ludhyanvi said his party has no links with terrorists and if they are found involved in terrorism they would accept any punishment.

MQM Deputy Convenor Farooq Sattar has a different stance as he said that mere dialogue could not serve the purpose. “I do think if the condition to lay down weapons (by the Taliban before talks) will not be implemented then mere dialogue might not serve real purpose,” he said, and proposed a national counter terrorism policy on this matter.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chairman Mehmood Achakzai who spoke both in Pashto and Urdu said that if peace has to achieved then ISI and IB will have to stop playing games. “If secret agencies take this matter seriously, it could be resolved in one month.” He also called for abolishment of FCR. He said that Fazalur Rahman, Nawaz Sharif and Munawar Hasan cannot go to Bajaur area due to bad law and order situation.

Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid said the situation of Kabul is comparatively better than that of Karachi. “Why the APC is being convened so late when only 13 days of government has left,” he raised the question. About Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, he said it could not be carried forward without the nod of America. “Zardari is not that simple that he would have entered into dialogue with Iran on this matter on his own,” he observed. Other leaders who attended the APC included Hasil Bizenjo, Attaur  Rahman ,Aftab Sherpao, Sajid Mir, Sajid Naqvi, Tahir Ashrafi, Anwarul Haq, Salim Safi. They all expressed their full support to all the points of APC.