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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid