DURING his speech before the in-camera joint session of parliament on Wednesday when he explained the government's policy on terrorism, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accused some unnamed western powers of harbouring the desire to let Indian and Afghan forces intrude into Pakistan's territory. Viewed with the revelation of Senator Nisar Memon, who heads the standing committee on defence of the upper house, that 10,000 Indian soldiers were being deployed on the Pak-Afghan border, the PM's remark becomes all the more sensational. Although Mr Gilani assured the parliamentarians that Pakistan would not countenance any foreign force, whether Indian, NATO, Afghan or any other, entering the country, the thought that our western allies, for whom the country has lost its peace of mind, should be thinking in these terms creates an acute sense of betrayal. Pakistan is playing a key role in the fight against terrorism that is spearheaded by their leader, the US. And, as a result, it is going through an immense amount of suffering. The government must strongly take up the matter with these counters at the highest level and at the same time review its policies towards them. The government has repeatedly maintained, even during the in-camera briefing, that it prefers a negotiated way out of the crisis to having recourse to arms. An opportunity now beckons for talks with the Taliban and must be seized. According to a BBC report, Maulvi Omar, their leader, has shown "willingness to negotiate" to talk "without any conditions". It is time the government responded positively. Maulvi Omar has been quoted as saying, "We are also willing to lay down our arms, once the military ceases operations against us." He said that the local Taliban did not want foreign militants in the region and would, in fact, set up a shoora to liaise with the authorities about their removal. The government should first satisfy itself with the truth of these utterances, which point to an end of the long era of insecurity and bloodshed that have disturbed life and crippled economy, and then hold talks with those elements who renounce violence and accept the writ of the state.