Islamabad: The Pakistan government today decided to continue targeted operations against militants alongside efforts to start a dialogue with the Taliban as part of steps to establish the state’s writ at all costs, according to media reports.

A meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sought an unconditional ceasefire by the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The meeting also approved the National Security Policy, Pakistan’s attempt at creating a comprehensive policy to tackle terrorism and internal security challenges.

Though there was no official word on the meeting, media reports said the cabinet decided that targeted operations against militants and efforts to hold peace talks will continue simultaneously.

Sharif said during the meeting that his government would establish its writ across the country at all costs, Dawn News channel reported.

The government suspended a fragile peace process with the TTP last week after a Taliban faction executed 23 troops taken hostage in 2010. After the talks were put on hold, combat jets and helicopter gunships targeted militant hideouts in the restive northwest, killing nearly 100 militants.

The TTP has been waging a a bloody insurgency that killed some 40,000 people since 2007.

Special arrangements will be made for people fleeing areas affected by the operations, media reports said. People displaced by fighting in North Wazirstan Agency will be provided a special package, Geo News reported.

According to media reports, Sharif told the cabinet meeting that the government had initiated the dialogue with the TTP with sincerity and made arrangements for the outlawed group’s negotiators to travel to Waziristan for consultations with militant leaders.

But by targeting civilians, the TTP had rendered the process meaningless, Sharif was quoted as saying by Dawn News.

Establishing peace in the country is the ultimate goal and the state’s writ will be established at all costs, he said.

During the meeting, the cabinet ratified the Internal Security Policy and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is expected to announce its details in parliament tomorrow.

The cabinet discussed the policy and the peace process with the TTP. The cabinet agreed the TTP would have to announce an unconditional ceasefire as the banned group stood alone and the nation was united against terrorism.

Dawn News quoted its sources as saying that in accordance with the new policy, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) would be the focal organisation for national security and that the heads of the armed forces would be among its members.

The cabinet gave its nod to the policy following a briefing by the Interior Minister, who briefed the ministers on the peace process and targeted operations.

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Free Press Journal