Government opens peace talks with local Taliban

Published: March 21, 2011

Al Qaeda will have no role in negotiations, authorities tell the Taliban unequivocally. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan has started peace talks with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and other militant groups across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), in anticipation of early withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan, informed sources told The Express Tribune.

The move is a critical step in transition to full Afghan control by the end of 2014, announced by US President Obama at a Nato summit in Lisbon last year.

The initial talks were opened up with the TTP, and its affiliated militants, prior to the recent wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan, sources said.

“Both sides, at the moment, are putting up their respective demands and their terms and conditions to bring an end to militancy in Fata and other regions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” sources added.

The authorities, however, have made it clear to the TTP and others that no role of al Qaeda is to be accepted at any level in these negotiations, sources said, adding that “some tribal elders from Pakistani territory are mediating between security high-ups and leaders of the TTP and other militant outfits.”

Abandoning the lashkars

Before opening these talks, the authorities had withdrawn their support to the anti-Taliban militias, commonly known as the ‘Qaumi Amn Lashkar’ in different parts of Fata, leaving them at the mercy of TTP and other militant groups.

The situation encouraged Taliban to settle their scores with these lashkars through attacks such as the one at a funeral gathering in Adezai area near Peshawar on March 9. The attack claimed 44 lives.

The attack prompted head of Qaumi Lashkar Haji Dilawar Khan to warn the government that his men would be forced to seek other alternatives if due material and financial support from the government is not extended within two days. The government chose to ignore their demands.

Meanwhile, senior minister K-P Bashir Bilour reportedly told the media that militias were no longer useful but added that the government would hold talks with lashkar leaders soon regarding the threats they face from the Taliban, for siding with the government.

Walking tight rope

The government, however, wishes to antagonise neither the militants, nor the lashkars, to keep its options open, sources explained.

The K-P government, therefore, paid financial compensation to the families of victims of the suicide attack but refused to extend material help to the lashkars.

It did not wish to annoy the Taliban by openly supporting their ‘enemies’ nor did it want to lose support of the lashkars to maintain pressure on the Taliban, sources added.

Official condemnation

The official protest by the Chief of Army Staff against the killing of 44 members of a peace jirga in Datta Khel, North Waziristan by an American drone attack last Thursday was an indication that the government does not want to derail the peace process with the Taliban, sources told The Express Tribune.

Strongly condemning the drone attack, the Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Engineer Shaukatullah demanded a formal apology from Washington besides financial compensation to the victims’ families.

The incessant drone attacks are increasing chances of reprisals from the tribes and the US therefore must cease drone attacks with immediate effect, he said.

Shaukatullah, who hails from the tribal region of Bajaur himself, said the policy of targeting innocent civilians will boomerang and the peaceful citizens who lose their loved ones may turn into extremists out of sheer desperation.

It is the first time a federal minister has asked the US for a formal apology over drone attacks and financial compensation for the victims’ families.

Afghan pullout prompts talks

The Nato decision to begin its troop pullout from Afghanistan has prompted Islamabad to arrive at a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and other militants in Fata, an official source told The Express Tribune.

Nato defence ministers endorsed a plan earlier this week  to hand over responsibility for security in three cities, two provinces and much of the capital Kabul, to Afghan forces over the next several months, commencing the critical first step in a transition to full Afghan control by the end of 2014.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates urged other members of the alliance not to use the milestone as a reason to withdraw their forces, rebuking them for focusing too much on their departure from the war-torn nation instead of displaying “unity and commitment.”

“Frankly, there is too much talk about leaving and not enough talk about getting the job done right,” Gates said at the Nato headquarters in Brussels.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • faraz
    Mar 21, 2011 - 12:55PM

    Isnt TTP being sponsored by RAW, CIA and Zionists? Why is our army holding talks with traitors? And once again we have expolited and ditched the Lashkars, just shameful. Recommend

  • blackzero
    Mar 21, 2011 - 3:57PM

    @faraz:

    IF ISI can fund,train and support the Afghan Taliban just to keep its share in Afghanistan alive, then CIA,RAW and Zionists have every right to do the same.Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    Mar 21, 2011 - 4:03PM

    No talks with these animals of TTP or Lashkars —— finish them off. You hold talks with people not some primitive humanoids —— just destroy them. Period.Recommend

  • Mar 21, 2011 - 4:29PM

    Oh come on! First you make lashkars, then you encourage them to take on Taliban, then they die for it in the name of patriotism and then you withdraw your support so the Taliban get their vengeance. If this is how our government works, we are eternally doomed.
    Shaukat ullah (Federal Minister) would find it easy to give statements from Islamabad, some ask him about why he went missing from his home town Bajaur for three years leaving the people who elected him at God’s mercy. And the other MNA from Bajaur Akhunzada would get his “gone missing” poster printed back at home. A parliamentarian who never visited his constituency after getting elected.
    Everyone is going to regret what they are doing to us in FATA.Recommend

  • sajjad
    Mar 21, 2011 - 4:42PM

    @ Farzaz…..Pakistani intelligence agencies is playing the role of body guard of RAW, CIA, MOSAD.. MI6, …because what we knew about the Taliban that they are paid by those agencies whose name are mentioned above and yet being Pakistani intelligence agencies hesitate to go after them…Recommend

  • faraz
    Mar 21, 2011 - 5:42PM

    @blackzero

    Then why is ISI holding talks with TTP?

    @ sajjad

    So you are saying that ISI, MI are also RAW, CIA, MOSSAD agents! If thats the case, then why does ISI claim that TTP are RAW, CIA, MOSAD agents and not religious fanatics? Recommend

  • Mar 21, 2011 - 5:47PM

    Blackzero, Sajjad. The TTP are power mad indigenous fanatics, who want to kill the establishment and take its place.Recommend

  • Bangash
    Mar 21, 2011 - 7:30PM

    This is very bad news. The govt has betrayed the Lashkars and is again following the policy of “negotiations and peace deals” which has failed every single time in the past.

    First encouraging and then betraying the Lashkar’s is a shocking treachery by the Govt of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Mar 21, 2011 - 11:42PM

    Typical Pakistan – two faced and unreliable.Recommend

  • Babloo
    Mar 22, 2011 - 3:42AM

    Government is negotiating terms of surrender of the Pak government to TTP. I think the deal goes like this. Pak army/ISI says to TTP that you do not attack security forces and in return we will not attack you and together we will be a big happy family.Recommend

  • Amir
    Mar 22, 2011 - 4:07AM

    @blackzero:
    This is not about Talibans this is all about Afghans and their Heartlan Afganistan and Pakistan is justify in supporting them under the context of

    Same Religion & Culture
    Centuries old relation as a peaceful neigbour
    Having more understaning of Ethinic and Strategic knowledge

    CIA, MOSSAD, RAW has not boundries with Afghanistan under any context and have no threat from Afghans. This is why ISI has full right to protect Afghansistan from external conspiracies that could damage the regional peach and stop enemy’s nefarious designRecommend

  • Cautious
    Mar 22, 2011 - 4:55AM

    Pathetic – nothing changes in Pakistan. Your word has no substance – your alliances have no weight – you are untrustworthy and in the end you will end up with no friends, no peace, no money. and no future. Shame on you.Recommend

  • Realist
    Mar 22, 2011 - 10:54AM

    Guys, guys come on. Stop with this RAW, zionist conspiracy theories, will you? Just think. Who are the Pakistani Taliban? They are the FATA tribal people and their tribal blood relations extend all the way into Afghanistan. Considering that Pakistan provides vital logistical support to NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan, its no surprise that they have turned against us. Afterall, NATO uses those supplies to fuel its war machine in Afghanistan.

    Its not RAW, MOSAD or CIA. Its a simple matter of “friend of my enemy is my enemy”. The foreign agencies may be involved but this aspect of foreign policy (supporting NATO occupation in Afghanistan) is the main culprit. Stop providing logistal support to NATO and all this suicide bombing etc. would go away. But of course so will aid and loans, which we need to keep up our lavish Govt. expenses. So, in the end, we have to decide. Do we need dollars or do we need peace? Its quite simple. See, no need of RAW, MOSAD, CIA etc. to explain why Pakistani Taliban hate us.Recommend

  • Mir Agha
    Mar 22, 2011 - 1:07PM

    The only sensible thing the GOP would have done (if it happens). If a flipping superpower will eventually have to ‘talk’ to the talibs, we sure as hell do to.Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim
    Mar 22, 2011 - 7:48PM

    The “Government” must hold talks with TTP to recover the promised 10 percent in kickback if Raymond Davis was safely released into their hands; Now that has taken place, a good Muslim
    like our local taliban must keep their promise to make sure their mentors make the payment.Recommend

  • Mar 23, 2011 - 12:19AM

    @Realist:
    You should get your facts right. I bet if you had ever come to FATA and seen them during their so called time of glory, you wouldn’t ever would have been able to separate them out from AlQaeda. they all work eat sleep together. I wonder where you got your information from. Who are the people from the lashkars then if the taliban are tribal people. We have recovered IDs of punjab, sindh and KPK from the taliban we caught in the beginning when we first formed the lashkars. Does that mean that Punjabis are taliban and it extends to India?
    The problem at hand is not where they hail from but what the government is doing about them.
    And we, Pakistanis should let Afghanistan deal with its matters itself, its not a province of Pakistan but a sovereign state. We cry about other nations interfering in our matters while on the other hand we, ourselves keep on interfering in Afghanistan. Iran is a Muslim country and a neighbor too, why don’t we ever try interfering there when the government kills thousands of people just for protesting.
    Its about time we stop using god’s name to interfere in others business and to use it against anyone who talks of a change.

    Lets leave Afghanistan to the Afghans for God’s sake. Look at the state of you own country first!Recommend

  • Hasan
    Mar 23, 2011 - 11:38AM

    @Realist: I don’t think that withdrawing logistical support for NATO will induce peace and calm. It may help in doing so but it is not the only reason for the Taliban to attack the Pakistani people.The Taliban have an extreme philosophy which has been spurred on into physical action by our support for the NATO occupation of Afghanistan but the support of this occupation is just one of the reasons and not “the’ reason. Recommend

  • Raj
    Mar 23, 2011 - 7:43PM

    Whats new? they have always met each other thru back channel any way!!!
    this is not a news worthy item!!! Nothing is going to change in FATA or any other region in future.Recommend

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