LAHORE -  A 70- year old bearded man who introduced himself as a retired army colonel, appeared before the media on Tuesday and asked reporters to convey his message to the Taliban that they should shun violence and seek forgiveness of Allah.

“Killing of fellow Muslims is ‘haram’ (forbidden), but perhaps the Taliban are unaware of it,” he said  quoting various verses from the Holy Quran.

Faqeer Muhammad Bhatti told reporters at Lahore Press Club that he retired from Pakistan Army some 20 years back but was addressing the news conference in his personal capacity. Despite insistence by the mediamen, he did not divulge his army corps to which he belonged to when he was part of the armed forces.  “Please convey my message to the Taliban to stop their killing spree and seek forgiveness of Allah,” he requested the media covering his news conference.  The retired colonel was under the impression that Taliban had not read the verses of Holy Quran declaring massacre of fellow Muslims as “Haram’. He was confident that when the Taliban would come to know about the message of God through the media they would shun violence and become good human beings.  Terming Taliban a bunch of misguided Muslims, Faqeer Bhatti said there was a dire need to educate them on true version of Islam. He said he had worked very hard to collect the relevant verses (over one dozen in number) from the Holy Quran and the books of Haidths forbidding killing of fellow Muslims.

He asked reporters to publish all these for the knowledge of Taliban who might not resort to forbidden acts after reading them.

Asked if he was in favour of holding talks with the Taliban, he replied that government should give them time till December 31st to stop acts of violence, failing which, they should be dealt with iron hand.

Outside the Lahore Press Club, spies from different intelligence agencies were seen collecting information about the retired colonel who did not appear to be so from his attire. He seemed more of a Maulana than a former army man.