News / Asia

    Taliban Leader Claims Peace Talks Going On With Pakistan

    Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at his residence in Islamabad, Pakistan. (file)
    Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at his residence in Islamabad, Pakistan. (file)
    Ayaz Gul

    A senior leader of the Pakistani Taliban says his group has opened peace talks with the government.

    The Pakistani Taliban’s Deputy Commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, while speaking to local reporters by telephone, revealed that his group is negotiating a peace deal with the government and that the talks are progressing well.

    Giving further details, the militant leader says he believes any peace deal emerging from the dialogue could be used as a “role model” for the rest of insurgency-hit districts in northwestern Pakistan, most of which are on the border with Afghanistan.

    The Taliban commander says the government has also released scores of his fighters as a goodwill gesture and in return militants have halted their attacks.

    No direct confirmation

    Without directly confirming reports of alleged peace talks with militants, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told a local TV station holding such talks is part of his government’s policy, and it is a continuing process.

    “First is dialogue, the other is development and the third is deterrence. That [peace talks] is a part of our policy,” he said.

    The Pakistani prime minister did not give further details.

    Reports of talks between the government and Taliban militants have been carried by local and foreign media outlets recently, but both sides had denied them.  At the time, Pakistani officials had stated that there would be no talks unless militants lay down their arms.

    Pakistan in the past has struck peace deals with Taliban insurgents but they did not last long and militants used the lull in fighting to regroup.

    The Pakistani Taliban has carried out hundreds of attacks prompting the government to launch major military offensives to root out their bases.

    Political and public demands for engaging in peace talks with militants have also intensified in Pakistan.

    A government-sponsored national conference of Pakistan’s political and military leaders in September ended with a resolution to "give peace a chance" with militants.

    While U.S officials are pushing for talks to end the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, they are unlikely to support Pakistan’s peace initiatives with local Taliban forces because of their close association with al-Qaida-led militants.

    Ties with NATO, U.S. still problematic

    Reports of peace talks come amid Islamabad’s growing tensions with Washington following last month’s NATO airstrikes on Pakistani border posts that killed 24 soldiers.

    Pakistan condemned the “unprovoked” attack and responded by closing border crossings used by NATO to supply its forces in Afghanistan. It also told Washington to vacate an airbase in southwestern Pakistan by December 11 and has vowed to review anti-terror cooperation with international forces.

    Prime Minister Gilani in his Saturday remarks reiterated that, on his instructions, lawmakers are preparing recommendations for future relationship with the United States.

    “We want to have maintained excellent relations with the United States but [based] on mutual respect and mutual interest,” he said.

    The United States insists the airstrikes on Pakistani border posts were not intentional.   U.S. officials say an investigation into what it calls a "terrible tragedy" is expected to be concluded later this month.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora