Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that his country's political leadership is united about wiping out Taliban fighters from the country a day after at least 162 people, mostly children, were killed in a school attack.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday following a meeting with leaders across the political spectrum, Sharif said that the conference had agreed the war against extremism needed to be fought with national consensus and determination.
"This fight will continue until all terrorists are defeated," he said. "At no stage there would be any discrimination between the good and bad Taliban and all would be dealt equally with an iron hand."
Leaders from Pakistan's political party had gathered at the Governor's House to deliberate upon a course of action following Tuesday's horrific attack on a military school in Peshawar that left 162 people dead, including 132 children. Seven gunmen had entered the school and opened fire on students in one of the bloodiest days in the country's history.
On Wednesday, people around Pakistan held candlelight vigils and prayers to mourn the victims of the attack, as parents buried their children during mass funerals in and around Peshawar.
"I have come here to offer my sympathy to those mothers, those people whose children were martyred in Peshawar's school yesterday," said Aman Ullah, a participant of vigil in port city of Karachi.
'Plan of action'
The Pakistani prime minister said the meeting agreed to form a committee to prepare a "Plan of Action" that would be finally approved by the national political and military leadership.
Sharif said the committee, headed by the interior minister, would submit suggestions in seven days. Representatives of military and intelligence agencies would be included in the committee.
To a question about his discussion with Imran Khan, the opposition leader and head of Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Sharif said it was the beauty of democracy that all issues could be discussed amicably.
Khan, who has been protesting against Sharif's government for months, announced that he was ending countrywide sit-ins in the wake of the tragedy.
"Due to the situation in the country right now, we have decided to end our protests," the cricketer-turned-politician was quoted as saying by DawnNews.
Khan said that in the wake of cold-blooded murder of children, he had set aside his differences as the matter of terrorism was far more serious and needed urgent attention.
"It is a national cause and we stand fully with the federal government and give out a clear message that leaders of entire political spectrum stand together to express their resolve to defeat terrorism, once for all."
Sharif also confirmed the lifting of the moratorium on executions in the country. He said it would commence for those who have been convicted of terrorism-related offences and whose final mercy petition had been rejected.
Asad Hashim and Hameedullah Khan contributed to this report
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies