News / Asia

    Pakistan-Taliban Talks on Verge of Collapse

    Pakistani religious cleric and member of Taliban's negotiating committee Maulana Sami-ul-Haq speaks during a press conference in Lahore, Pakistan, Feb. 15, 2014.
    Pakistani religious cleric and member of Taliban's negotiating committee Maulana Sami-ul-Haq speaks during a press conference in Lahore, Pakistan, Feb. 15, 2014.
    Pakistan’s attempts at peace talks with Taliban militants appeared on the edge of collapse Thursday.

    Interior Minister Choudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the civilian government and the nation’s powerful military have agreed: negotiations with the militants cannot proceed in the face of repeated terrorist attacks.

    Khan said Pakistan’s security forces have the right to defend themselves, and what was witnessed in the past 24 hours is a reflection of that.

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    The statement followed military strikes early Thursday against militant targets in the tribal area of North Waziristan which killed at least 35 militants.
     
    The strikes were in retaliation to attacks against Pakistani security forces, including the execution of 23 soldiers who were held hostage by militants in neighboring Afghanistan.
     
    Pakistan conveyed a strong protest to the Afghan government that the killing took place on their soil.
     
    According to analyst Anatol Lieven of King’s College Department of War Studies in London, there appears to be a strong will in the Pakistani military to launch offensives against the Taliban in North Wazirisitan, an area they have shied away from in the past.
     
    “The high command of the military has, I think, genuinely come to recognize in recent years the extent of the Pakistani Taliban threat,” he said, adding that the civilian government appeared less convinced.
     
    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif previously said that dialogue with the Tehreek-e-Taliban would be a cornerstone of his administration. But talks broke down earlier this week.
     
    The Tehreek-e-Taliban, a loose network of Islamist militants, now operates across large areas of the country, including the main Punjab province, and the southern port city of Karachi.
     
    Lieven said that could prove to be a major challenge.

    “I suspect that we will see intensified action in the tribal areas, coupled with increased terrorism elsewhere in the country,” he said.
     
    Khan announced Thursday that the government is beefing up its security systems in and around the capital, Islamabad.  But he dismissed a report that there were terrorist “sleeper cells” in the city.
     
    Despite the military action, he said the government is still ready to sit down with the Taliban to seek a political end to the violence.

    Analysts agree there appear to be increasing divisions within the Taliban, between those who want a settlement with the government and others who are determined to continue fighting.
     
    But some analysts say peace talks are not likely to succeed because the demands of the Pakistani Taliban are so extreme that if the government were to accede to them, it would in effect mean the end of the Pakistani state.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MikeBarnett from: USA
    February 20, 2014 1:43 PM
    Pakistan's situation became complicated because its eastern border was determined by war with India, while its northwestern border was created by the British Empire that split the Pashtun tribes to let Britain divide and rule. The Taliban, who arose from the Pashtun tribes during the Afghan Civil War in the 1990's, are on both sides of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Its borders and relationships with its tribes remain unsettled.

    Fortunately, China has sold it combat aircraft and transferred technology for Pakistan to build its own planes that have been used to bomb militant targets. China has built and sold 3 warships and transferred technology for Pakistan to build future warships. The first three have been used to fight Somali piracy in the Indian Ocean. China has sent 16 flotillas to combat Somali piracy with the International Naval Force. China, Russia, and 4 central Asian countries in the SCO have agreed to watch Afghanistan after the US and NATO leave in 2014, so Pakistan will not be alone in conflict against the Taliban and other threats after 2014.

    by: Mr. Mitch from: USA
    February 20, 2014 9:18 AM
    Is it because a world population in the billions necessitates the thinning of the herd? Wouldn't birth control be preferable to death control? I swear, I can see the day coming when gay people will be hailed as having the highest degree of social awareness.

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