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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs