Free Press Journal

Stop violence to take forward peace talks, Pak tells Taliban


Islamabad/Peshawar: The Pakistan government today expressed its inability to carry forward peace talks with the Taliban after the execution of 23 troops and asked the banned group to immediately cease all violent activities.

A day after the fragile peace process was suspended over the execution of the paramilitary troops held hostage by the Taliban since 2010, the government said the militants should stop violence for a “result-oriented and meaningful dialogue”.

State negotiators said talks could not progress without any solid steps and asked the Taliban to unconditionally cease violence without any delay and ensure commitment to peace, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The killing of the 23 paramilitary personnel by a Taliban faction in Mohmand tribal region shocked the government, which has engaged the banned group in talks to work out a solution to the decade-old insurgency that has claimed 40,000 lives.

The state negotiators refused to meet the Taliban- nominated committee yesterday. At an emergency meeting, the negotiators observed that a result-oriented and meaningful dialogue process could not move forward without the end of violence, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

The negotiators also briefed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and told him that even as the two sides held talks over a 13-day period, a number of people were killed in acts of violence.

The negotiators said talks had been progressing satisfactorily until the Taliban claimed a bomb attack that killed 13 policemen in Karachi last week.

They sought an explanation from the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan but before it could be received, the 23 personnel were executed.

Following these developments, the negotiators unanimously decided that holding scheduled talks with the Taliban- nominated committee would be a “meaningless effort”.

They further said they had been patient but the reaction from the other side was discouraging as violent activities were still continuing.

The situation completely changed after the execution of the paramilitary personnel and the government committee is unable to continue talks until the Taliban cease all violent activities, the negotiators added.

Sharif appreciated the performance of the negotiators and instructed them to continue consultations among themselves, the official statement said.

Meanwhile, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said various militant factions have been contacted regarding a decision on a ceasefire. He said it was obligatory for all factions to follow a decision endorsed by the chief of the group.

Shahid said the militants would not face any difficulty from Taliban factions on any decision.

He further said the Taliban faction in Mohmand Agency would have to explain their action of killing the 23 security personnel during a meeting of the group’s ‘shura’ or council.

Shahid claimed there had been a sudden increase in the killing of Taliban fighters in custody and this should stop for the talks to be successful.