News / Asia

Pakistani Minister Welcomes Taliban Negotiation Offer

Mourners carry the coffin of senior Pakistani lawmaker Bashir Ahmed Bilour, who died in a suicide attack targeting a meeting of his anti-Taliban Awami National Party, Peshawar, Dec. 23, 2012.
Mourners carry the coffin of senior Pakistani lawmaker Bashir Ahmed Bilour, who died in a suicide attack targeting a meeting of his anti-Taliban Awami National Party, Peshawar, Dec. 23, 2012.
VOA News
Officials in northwest Pakistan say they welcome the Pakistani Taliban's offer to negotiate with the government.
In a video released to news outlets, Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud said his group is open to talks with the government if Pakistan cuts ties to the United States. Mehsud also said asking the Taliban to disarm before any negotiations was not an option.
On Friday, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province's Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the government was not asking the Taliban to give up their weapons ahead of any meaningful dialogue.
"We have not talked of surrender of arms; what we have said is that violence can be renounced, which is important for negotiations," Hussain said. "We are aware of our traditions, and surrendering arms is difficult, but to renounce violence is in line with the tradition."
The information minister said it is now up to the Taliban to form a negotiation team with the mandate to talk peace.
"We are ready to help the federal government if asked for assistance in negotiations with the Taliban," Hussain added. 
The Taliban has been blamed for a number of attacks in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan's neighboring tribal agencies.
A suicide blast Saturday in the provincial capital, Peshawar, killed nine people, including a top provincial minister. The bomber struck a meeting of the Awami National Party. Among those killed was Bashir Ahmed Bilour, number two to the chief minister the province.
The United States has carried out a number of drone strikes against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in Pakistan's northwest. Pakistani security officials said the latest strike took place Friday and killed four suspected militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency along the Afghan border.
Pakistan has condemned such attacks, saying they violate the country's sovereignty. U.S. officials, who rarely speak publicly about drone strikes, say they are crucial to the fight against militants.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Kafantaris from: Ohio
December 29, 2012 10:05 PM
The Taliban is the cancer of Pakistan, with the country's only hope being in removing it.
Enough effort spent in appeasing these recalcitrant fools.
No more deals, no more waiting and no more mercy. They have shown none for us.
Force is the only thing these savages understand and force -- unrelenting and brutal -- is what they shall get.

by: DON from: Australia
December 28, 2012 10:57 PM
The taliban are nothing short of an evil murdering group and a waste of space . If they want to do something intelligent put their guns in their mouth and pull the trigger and rid this earth of the vermin that they are.

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