News / Asia

    Pakistani Minister Rules Out Political Concessions to Taliban

    FILE - Pro-Taliban representatives attend a joint news conference after their talks with government representatives in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 6, 2014.
    FILE - Pro-Taliban representatives attend a joint news conference after their talks with government representatives in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 6, 2014.
    Ayaz Gul
    A key minister in Pakistan said Tuesday that local Taliban insurgents involved in peace talks with the government are asking for a political role in any future arrangement to stabilize the violence-plagued tribal territory on the Afghan border.  The minister, however, says the Taliban will not be given such a role.  

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has recently initiated a peace process with the Pakistani Taliban to negotiate an end to years of violence that has claimed thousands of lives.
     
    The Islamist militants are entrenched in Pakistan's volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas, known as FATA, from where they direct anti-state activities and allegedly sponsor cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.  
     
    The Pakistani Minister for States and Frontier Regions, Abdul Qadir Baloch, says that militant activities and counterinsurgency army offensives in the past decade have weakened state control over FATA.

    Addressing an international seminar in Islamabad Tuesday, he said the government is trying to find ways to reestablish its authority in the border region and the ongoing peace process is part of those efforts.
     
    The minister ruled out any possibility of giving political concessions to Taliban militants, condemning them as “murderers and killers.”
     
    “Taliban even today are asking for some sort of a role in future arrangement of the FATA area.  Whatever I have learned in these eight or nine months that I have been the minister of FATA area, I don’t find any place for them in that society, I just don’t find any place for them.  They just cannot be tolerated," said Baloch.
     
    Baloch went on to suggest that even if a settlement is reached with the Taliban, the local tribal population is unlikely to reconcile with the militants.
     
    “Hundreds and hundreds of people have been killed by the Taliban.  There is a tribal tradition, tribal people take revenge and the revenge killings are going to then start off.  So, even if a solution is found out there cannot be a space left for those elements of the Taliban who have been involved in killing of tribal people, in displacements, in bringing about those miseries to the tribal people," he said.
     
    Prime Minister Sharif’s peace initiative has drawn criticism from within and outside the country because the government has until now refused to discuss its agenda for the talks with the Taliban, or to say how far it is willing to go to negotiate peace.
     
    Critics have said the government should not talk with extremists who have the blood of Pakistanis on their hands and have condemned the country’s political system as un-Islamic.
     
    Sharif and his advisers defend the peace process, saying they want to try all possible peaceful means before considering a military offensive again Taliban strongholds, which are primarily located in the rugged mountainous tribal territory called North Waziristan.

    A government delegation was to be flown to an undisclosed so-called “peace zone” for direct talks with Taliban officials on Tuesday but bad weather reportedly prevented them from undertaking the journey.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    Party's presumptive presidential nominee, her vice presidential pick deliver optimistic message in Florida as they campaign for first time together

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora