Pakistan Taliban Set Preconditions For Peace Talks
The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday announced preconditions for talks to end an insurgency that has killed thousands of people, demanding that troops withdraw from tribal areas and that prisoners are freed.
Shahidullah Shahid, spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), had earlier welcomed the new government’s move to begin peace talks, but on Sunday listed the insurgents’ prior demands.
“First of all, troops in the entire tribal area should go back to barracks and then our prisoners should be released,” Shahid said.
“The Pakistan government must take steps which can develop an atmosphere of trust and can remove the doubts and suspicion.”
“We cannot move forward unless the governments accepts these two demands,” Shahid said.
He was speaking after the Taliban’s shura or decision-making council held three days of talks about the government offer of dialogue.
Shura members from across the country took part in the meeting, Shahid said.
Politicians last week backed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s calls to begin talks with the Taliban.
Representatives from the main coalition and opposition parties, who attended an All Parties Conference, asked the government to initiate the dialogue.
Army and intelligence chiefs also attended the conference, as did representatives of secular parties that made up the previous government and had supported military operations against the rebels.
Previous peace deals with the Taliban have quickly broken down and been sharply criticised for allowing the extremists time to regroup before fresh attacks.
Pakistan says more than 40,000 people have been killed in bomb and suicide attacks staged by Taliban and al-Qaeda-led militants who oppose Islamabad’s US alliance.
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