LAHORE  - Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial Friday sought more arguments over maintainability of a petition asking for permission to open a Taliban office in Pakistan for holding dialogue with the government.

Adjourning the further hearing till May 09, the CJ directed the counsel for the petitioner – Advocate Kashif Solomany – to convince the court that under what law the judiciary could intervene in the policy matters. The CJ said holding dialogue or otherwise was a policy matter and the court could not issue any direction to the government in this regard.

Solomany requested the court to take suo moto to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens at the hands of the terrorism and drone attacks. At this the CJ said according to a judgment of the Supreme Court; the high courts have no jurisdiction to take suo moto. The petitioner in his petition had made federation of Pakistan, interior ministry, ministry of defence and ministry of finance as respondents. The petitioner had stated that the surgical strikes against Taliban in Pakistan without dialogue will be a grave error for peace. He further added that the respondents may be directed to hold dialogue with Taliban to ensure peace in the country. He said that Pakistan had lost 49,000 people in the war against terror since 9/11 and more than 24,000 civilians and troops had been killed in attacks between 2001 and 2008. The armed forces had lost 15,681 men fighting the Taliban militants in the Tribal Areas since 2008. Some 5,152 civilians had been killed and 5,678 injured in bomb blasts and suicide attacks since 2008, the petitioner further added.

Solomani stated that Pakistan had become an ally of US against war on terror after the 9/11 attack and since then Pakistan was suffering a huge loss to its economy totalling about $100 billion. Consequently, economic growth has slowed in addition to the demand for imports going down with consequential decline in tax collection. Inflows of foreign investment were naturally adversely affected accentuated by the travel bans issued by western government to its entrepreneurs.

He added that Pakistan continued to pay a heavy price in terms of both economic as well as security fronts. He further stated that a large portion of its resources both human and material had been consumed by this war for the last several years.

Solomani said talks with the Taliban were an efficacious, adequate and alternative remedy to fighting, but this option was being ignored. Military action had borne no fruit so it was time to try dialogue. He said the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had denied involvement in three recent bomb attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which raised the question of who was behind the attacks.

The petitioner further said that a Taliban office would facilitate the dialogue process. He stated that the national leadership should give dialogue a chance to deal with extreme issue of Taliban in the interest of peace. He added that according to the Charter of United Nations Organization, no sanctions could be imposed on Pakistan for dialogue with Taliban.