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Rediff.com  » News » Proposed Pak govt-Taliban peace talks await 'seriousness'

Proposed Pak govt-Taliban peace talks await 'seriousness'

February 14, 2013 02:42 IST

Talks between Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Pakistan government are at standstill position, as both the parties blame each other for ‘non-serious’ attitude during the much-awaited peace negotiation.

The news about ‘serious talks’ surfaced on December 28 last when Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of TTP, in a message offered the government for ‘serious talks’.

“We will consider every serious offer for talks. But we will never pay heed to non-serious propositions like asking us to lay down arms before sitting for talks”, he had said.

The next week Taliban spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan, while setting conditions for talks, said in a video message, “We want result-oriented talks. If the government is serious about talks it will have to take two steps -- give us guarantors and release our prisoners”.

Adnan Rashid, a prisoner on death row who was released by Taliban during a raid over Bannu jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , was also seen sitting next to Ihsan in the video.

Different TTP leaders have issued statements about peace agreement with the government in the last two months, but none of them have agreed to talk to Interior Minister Rehman Malik. They have termed Malik a ‘non-serious’ person who can never be relied upon.

Even before setting conditions for peace talks -- ­­like releasing six prisoners including two former Taliban spokespersons Haji Muslim Khan and Maulvi Omer­ and asking for guarantors --Ihsanullah Ihsan at a previous interview had told Rediff.com that TTP can talk to serious people who can guarantee both the government and the army, but the militant outfits would never talk to Rehman Malik or his ministry.

Rehman Malik on Wednesday told the media in Islamabad that the militants should announce ceasefire that prior to the talks. “There should be a 30-day ceasefire first; the nation has rejected the system of Taliban and majority of the people ask the militants to come forward and to announce ceasefire before any negotiation”, Malik added.

Earlier during another interview Malik had termed the Taliban as ‘non-serious’ by bringing forward an acclaimed offender Adnan Rashid in front while initiating peace talks. The interior minister said, “The militants do not have a serious or sincere attitude on holding talks with the government. They have nominated Adnan Rashid, a proclaimed offender.”

Majority of Pakistani political parties are of the view that the government should hold peace talks with the militants, especially when the general elections round the corner.

“Militants like to target political rallies and elections will provide them an opportunity to target rival parties like Awami National Party and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. So before going for elections a ceasefire with warring militants can ensure peaceful polls”, Pashtun Journalist Waqas Khan told Rediff.com.

When senior journalist Nazar-ul-Islam was asked about any possibility of peace talks in recent future, he said, “First both parties should come out of the issue of ‘seriousness’ as no one knows what actually this ‘seriousness’ is. I don’t think any such talks will take place.”

When it comes to rivalries the Taliban have declared ANP as their ‘enemy number one’, but the Pashtun nationalist party also seeks talks with Taliban. Since 2008, the ANP has lost more than 550 of its workers including three members of Parliament in different attacks by the Taliban.

But now the ANP has also changed its tone and speaks about talks with the militants. “We want talks with Taliban. I am inviting Taliban to come to the negotiation table”, said ANP central leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, whose younger brother Bashir was recently killed by the militants.

 

Tahir Ali in Islamabad