KP govt cautiously welcomes talks offer: Anti-terror stance to remain unchanged
PESHAWAR, Dec 27: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Thursday welcomed the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s offer for conditional talks but said it would not deter it from its principled stand against terrorism and violence.
“We welcome the TTP’s offer of truce and consider this a positive development,” Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told Dawn.
“Let the TTP come to the table and present its conditions. It is for the state to decide what conditions are acceptable and what are unacceptable,” he said.
His comments were sought after Punjabi Taliban, the TTP’s Punjab faction, had offered a conditional ceasefire in a letter. The letter was written by Punjabi Taliban leader Asmatullah Muawiya outlining his conditions for talks. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ahsan endorsed the offer.
The conditions include Pakistan pulling out of the Afghan war and changing its constitution and foreign policy to bring it what Taliban claimed in conformity with Quran and Sunnah. The militants also demanded Pakistan to refocus on a war of “revenge” against India.
The TTP dubbed the ANP and MQM agents of the US and said that Taliban would target both the parties. The militants said they would not target the JUI-F, Jamaat-i-Islami, the PML-N and Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaaf because they had no problem with these parties.
Mian Iftikhar said his party had been attacked because of its principled stand.
“Our role is very clear. We have a principled stand against terrorism and violence. Those who are willing to renounce violence are welcome to sit down with us and negotiate,” the minister said.
“Ours is the only party which has stood up against terrorism for the love of the country and humanity,” he said.
“We are not like those who have chosen to remain silent for the fear of retribution. We have rendered a lot of sacrifices because of our stand for the future and survival of the country,” Mian iftikhar declared.
“We are not going to change our policy on the dictates of others and we will not compromise,” he said.
He said the party leadership would soon meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and leaders of other political parties to firm up a joint response to the Taliban offer. “There are two options. If the consensus is to hold talks with Taliban then we have to decide conditions under which the talks would be held and the other option is to take full, across-the-board action against militants.”
He said the purpose of holding talks with political parties was not to forge an electoral alliance.
“This is not about elections or electoral alliance. This is about the country’s survival and its future,” he said.
The minister said that the political leadership could give political ownership to any military operation in North Waziristan.
“We are a political force which can give political ownership to any action taken by consensus,” he said, adding that the ANP was being targeted because it supported and owned the military operation in Swat and Malakand.
“We can give political ownership but it is the responsibility of the state to take a decisive action against militants.”
Agencies add: Interior Minister Rehman Malik rejected any offer of a ceasefire unless it came from the Pakistan Taliban leader.
“I reject all these offers, and any future claims, of Ihsanullah Ihsan, unless and until Hakeemullah Mehsud owns them himself,” Mr Malik said.