ISLAMABAD - Former President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the PPP government also first gave priority to holding talks with the militants in Swat and it was only after the strategy of negotiations failed due to the hard line taken by militants that force was used to drive them out and establish the writ of the state. Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar quoted the former President as saying this on Friday while commenting on the ongoing public debate over the negotiations undertaken between the representatives of the militants and the government.

The former President said that the PPP was part of the All Parties Conference that endorsed the decision to hold talks with the militants to find a way out for peace and stability in the country and the region. The Pakistan People’s Party is therefore not against the proposed talks with militants and wished the process success, he said.

He said that there may be differences of opinion on how to conduct negotiations and hold talks but it was important that the stakeholders backed the policy of first seeking a negotiated settlement.

He said it was particularly important for the political forces to be on the same page for the sake of democracy and also for keeping the initiative in the hands of political forces of the country.

If past experience of the PPP is any guide it is clear that the use of force only after the talks fail is a viable and practical strategy for ending militancy and establishing the writ of the state, the former President said.