RAWALPINDI - Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday that he was once again inviting militants for talks, but they would have to lay down their arms and renounce violence first.

Speaking to the media in Rawalpindi, Malik said that suicide attacks had gone down because of the help given by religious scholars and the action taken against those who were planning the attacks. On the attack in DI Khan on Saturday, Malik said that he had ordered the Interior Secretary to investigate the matter. He said that police stations and check posts in sensitive areas should have proper protection and added that he has suggested the formation of a force that will give aerial and additional support to security forces when their convoys move.

When asked about Mansoor Ijaz, the interior minister said that he was an American citizen and a visa would be issued to him when he applies. Malik said the government respected the court, which is why the rules had been relaxed and a visa would be issued right away.

He said he had spoken to Pakistan High Commissioner in the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan and had asked him if Ijaz had applied for a visa, who confirmed that no application had been received yet.