Government makes offer after all-party meeting
The Taliban in Pakistan on Monday welcomed a government offer to open peace talks following a bid by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to generate consensus over how to deal with terrorism.
A statement was released by the banned militant group after Sharif hosted leaders of various parliamentary parties, the military and intelligence.
Heads of political parties have mandated the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) to open meaningful dialogue with militant groups.
The resolution, which also called for a separate all-party conference on the restive Balochistan province, however remains silent how the government would proceed if talks failed.
“Taliban welcomes the offer of talks. We will debate it in Majlis-e-Shura [consultative body of the group] and will issue our detailed response in a couple of days,” said the spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Shahidullah Shahid.
Earlier on Monday, Sharif, in his opening speech, urged political parties to shun politicking on the major challenges of the economy, terrorism and the energy crisis grappling Pakistan.
“Pakistan will enter the 21st century in a real sense only by wiping out terrorism‚ which has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and security personnel,” Sharif noted.
He warned that Pakistan would suffer greatly if the country remained divided on the issue of tackling terrorism.
The Pakistan Taliban have been waging a bloody insurgency for a decade.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali told the Upper House last month that 12,795 lives had been lost across Pakistan in terrorism-related incidents since 2002. But media and unofficial sources put the fatalities at over 40,000.
Earlier this year, the Taliban had also made an offer to hold peace talks with the then Pakistani government, but they withdrew the offer following the death of their second-in-command, Wali ur Rehman, in a US drone strike in North Waziristan in May.
Originally published at UCAnews on 10 September 2013. Used with permission. All rights reserved.