Braving the cold and rain, the lawmakers remained firm in their belief that figures for casualties in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province presented by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan were wrong.

Khan has said he cross-checked with the provincial government, which stated that the figures were correct.

Talking to reporters during the protest, Pakistan People's Party Senator Raza Rabbani said once talks begin with the Taliban, "all acts of terrorism should end".

If any agreement is reached during the course of such talks, it should be ratified by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and the Parliament, he said.

"The government needs to emphasize a regional approach for resolving the current situation which is essentially regional in nature. A solution enjoying the support of all regional countries will be sustainable," he said, quoting recommendations passed by a joint sitting of parliament in October 2008.

The government should also take action to ensure that Pakistani territory is not used for any kind of attacks and all foreign fighters are expelled, Rabbani said.

The lawmakers questioned whom they should believe because Khan had said talks with the Taliban were about to start while the militants claimed there had been no contacts.

On October 30, Khan presented figures of casualties in terrorist attacks in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while answering questions in the Senate or Upper House of the Parliament. The figures were considered low and called a "pack of lies" by Awami National Party Senator Zahid Khan.

The incident triggered a verbal duel between the Interior Minister and Rabbani, after which the opposition staged a walkout and then boycotted the session.

(Agencies)

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