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For Truce Talks, Taliban Issue Demands

by AFP and Newsweek Pakistan
Siddiqui briefs the press, Jan. 31. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Siddiqui briefs the press, Jan. 31. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Taliban form nine-member committee for ‘peace’ talks with Islamabad.

The Pakistani Taliban have welcomed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s latest offer of peace talks, but demanded that the four-member government committee set up to negotiate potential truce terms be expanded.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan made the announcement Saturday night after the conclusion of their council meeting.

On Jan. 30, Sharif named journalists Irfan Siddiqui and Rahimullah Yusufzai, a former Intelligence Bureau official, and a former Pakistani ambassador who is now a member of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as members of the government’s special committee.

The Taliban now want five other members added to this committee to match the strength of its own nine-member committee.

The names proposed by the Taliban to represent the government are: Imran Khan, chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf who hailed Sharif’s decision for the talks; ‘Father of the Taliban’ Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, who recently criticized Sharif of not being serious about holding talks; Ibrahim Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami, which called slain Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud a martyr; Mufti Kifayatullah of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl); and Maulana Abdul Aziz, who heads the Al Qaeda-affiliated Lal Masjid in Islamabad.

Three of the five people nominated by the Taliban have agreed to join the government committee if Islamabad accepts the Taliban’s suggestion. “I will continue to be part of the committee if the government shows sincerity in looking into [the Taliban’s] demands,” said Aziz. “And, of course, the major demand is enforcement of Shariah in the country.” The JUIF wants to think over the nomination of Kifayatullah, while the PTI appears not to want its chief on the committee.

The Taliban “should select their own Taliban representatives 4 peace talks,” PTI chief Khan posted on Twitter. “We have full faith in the 4-member committee announced by the govt. However we will discuss how PTI can be of further assistance to further the dialogue in our Core Committee meeting on Monday.”

The Taliban side will be led by Qari Shakeel of Mohmand agency, who heads the Pakistani Taliban’s “political wing.” Others on the nine-member Taliban team include Ihsanullah Ihsan, Shahidullah Shahid, and Asmatullah Muawiya.

The Taliban have said they are ready for “meaningful negotiations” provided the government is “serious.” They have also been demanding the release of prisoners, withdrawal of the Army from the restive tribal areas, and an end to U.S. drone strikes.

Experts expressed doubt that much would come from the establishment of the two committees, suggesting the Taliban were biding their time and not committed to the talks. “The strategy is to avoid military action until the end of 2014 when international troops withdraw from Afghanistan,” said security analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi. “This will help them join hands with the Afghan Taliban and focus full attention on securing control of the tribal regions.”

Update: On Sunday, the Taliban issued an email statement to the media clarifying that it wants a fresh five-member non-Taliban committee to liaise on their behalf with the government. The Taliban are not seeking an expansion of the existing four-member government committee.

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5 comments

Abbas Ali February 2, 2014 - 4:31 pm

He has taken everybody for a ride, but he has got to be a bigger fool!The truth has a very funny way of coming out,All this drama of civilians getting killed by drones and stopping the NATO containers, and his sing song of this is not our war- his godfathers nominated him to be on the team for “peace” talks! Does it come as a surprise to any body that TTP want imu to be included in the negotiating team-proof if proof was ever needed for the world to see that imu is with the terrorists!

Reply
Hassan February 2, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Spot on! IK was a nobody for years and the ISI gets the ball rolling for him, all the way through rigging elections to this. The ISI just wants the drones to back off the taliban so they can relaunch jehad in afghanistan around 2015. Its the post-soviet mess all over again. This country has gone to the dogs.

Reply
Hu Dat February 2, 2014 - 11:01 pm

I don think Imran is a product of ISI or has any benefit to gain from the Taliban, but he has been one of the most annoying and ridiculous elitist leaders to destroy Pakistan with his naive drawing room ideas.

This guy is a fool and is taking the country down a dangerous path by helping kneel down to the Taliban vicious campaign of murder.

Imran Khan is responsible for encouraging the Taliban by making excuses for them using drones attacks and US invasion next door as an excuse, this same Imran Khan feels no shame coming to the America and asking us American Pakistanis for donations.

This is the style of most elitists, they live large in Pakistan, come to the West for donations and then bash the West and give comfort and succor to the criminal elements.

Even if Imran was right, he should not have made excuses for Taliban bombings by claining it was because of drone attacks, he keeps giving Taliban more motivation and energy for their bloody campaign, problem is nation is still so impressed with his once upon a time playboy image and his world cup success that they take his every word as holy.

Reply
Hu Dat February 2, 2014 - 11:02 pm

I don think Imran is a product of ISI or has any benefit to gain from the Taliban, but he has been one of the most annoying and ridiculous elitist leaders to destroy Pakistan with his naive drawing room ideas.

This guy is a fool and is taking the country down a dangerous path by helping kneel down to the Taliban vicious campaign of murder.

Imran Khan is responsible for encouraging the Taliban by making excuses for them using drones attacks and US invasion next door as an excuse, this same Imran Khan feels no shame coming to the America and asking us American Pakistanis for donations.

This is the style of most elitists, they live large in Pakistan, come to the West for donations and then bash the West and give comfort and succor to the criminal elements.

Even if Imran was right, he should not have made excuses for Taliban bombings by claiming it was because of drone attacks, he keeps giving Taliban more motivation and energy for their bloody campaign, problem is nation is still so impressed with his once upon a time playboy image and his world cup success that they take his every word as holy.

Reply
vilop March 19, 2014 - 2:29 pm

The terrorists groups like Tehrik-e-Taliban and JuD terrorists Mohd Hafeez saeed of pakistan are blood drinker of innocent peoples. They are disregarded to be muslim. They preaches only terrorism instead of islam. Once upon a time these terrorists leaders were beggars of north wazaristan of pakistan. They should be garlanded with indian sandals……by vilop. +91-080-9620504282, india.

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