– The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD -Pakistan’s top opposition leader said Saturday that the government should negotiate with the country’s Taliban militants to ease the relentless security crisis in the nuclear-armed, U.S.-allied nation.

Nawaz Sharif made the comments two days after a pair of suicide bombers killed 42 people at a famed Sufi shrine in the province controlled by his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

The party is considered more religiously conservative and aligned with pro-Taliban parties than the Pakistan People’s Party, which runs the federal government.

The comments also come as Pakistan tries to weigh in on reconciliation efforts between Afghanistan’s government, the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban.

Still, the ruling party in Islamabad has not made the same push in Pakistan for quite some time — at least not overtly — and its past peace deals with Pakistani militant groups have usually collapsed.

Sharif said Islamabad shouldn’t wait for directives from Washington on how to deal with its problems.

“We have this problem in our home. Why shouldn’t we take initiatives?” he said in a news conference in Lahore that was broadcast live.

He specified that the government should talk to the “Taliban who are ready to talk and ready to listen.”

Sharif’s party has been criticized in recent months for not going after militant groups in Punjab province, which the party runs and where several lethal ones operate that have ties to al-Qaida and Taliban fighters based along the Afghan border in the northwest.

One recent group that has emerged in the eastern province has been labeled the “Punjabi Taliban.”