Army denies reports of talks with Taliban

Published: November 22, 2011

ISPR spokesperson says negotiations with terrorist outfits are undertaken by government, not military. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan army on Tuesday denied news reports that alleged that it was engaged in negotiations with the banned militant outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

A statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) “strongly and categorically” refuted news reports published by foreign news agencies on Monday that claimed that the Pakistani government and military were engaging in peace talks that could end a wave of bombings that has killed thousands of people.

“The army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP or its affiliated militant groups,” the spokeperson said.

“Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded,” he added.

He also added that any negotiations or reconciliation process with militant groups is undertaken by the government and not the military.

A senior TTP militant commander had said on Monday that the banned group was engaging in initial peace talks with the Pakistan government and military.

“Peace talks are continuing with the Pakistani government and army. We have had two rounds of such talks,” one senior Taliban commander told AFP by telephone, claiming to be on a 10-member negotiating committee.

He said Taliban conditions included troops withdrawing to barracks, the military compensating losses and an exchange of prisoners. The Taliban commander also told AFP that the talks concern South Waziristan and if successful, they will expand to other tribal districts.

He said that former military officials from the tribal areas were acting as mediators in the talks.

Two mid-level intelligence officials in the northwest were ignorant of any peace talks, but said they could be taking place at a “very high level”.

Reports of the peace talks come as the United States seeks Pakistani help in facilitating a peace process in neighbouring Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been leading an increasingly deadly 10-year insurgency.

A second Pakistani Taliban commander confirmed initial contacts with the government, saying that Taliban across the tribal belt had given their consent.

“Peace negotiations have been going on several weeks. Our first condition was to stop military offensives in the tribal areas,” the commander said.

But the main spokesman for Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban faction, Tehreek-e-Taliban, denied any peace talks.

“At the moment, the chapter of peace talks with the government is completely closed,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

A regular visitor to North Waziristan, a premier Taliban hub, said the militia always denies negotiations with the authorities but that “these days, they are re-evaluating their strategy, and considering to halt attacks”.

Pakistani troops have been fighting against homegrown Taliban in much of the semi-autonomous tribal belt which snakes along the northwest border with Afghanistan.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • R S JOHAR
    Nov 22, 2011 - 1:42PM

    This denial should be appreciated since no talks should be held with murderers of innocent people.

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  • Acorn Guts
    Nov 22, 2011 - 2:39PM

    I wouldn’t discourage talking peace with TTP if they knew what it means to ‘honour your word’.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 22, 2011 - 3:04PM

    These elements need to be politically engaged, disarmed and brought in the mainstream. These are our people who have gone astray. Only those elements who remain irreconcilable need to be dealt with an iron hand. There is no military solution to this problem.

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  • Nov 22, 2011 - 4:07PM

    not talks with the butchers, please.

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  • Maoist
    Nov 22, 2011 - 4:22PM

    Even India talks to Maoists
    then why shouldn’t Pakistan talk to Taliban.. and get out of this unending war with its own people.

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  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 22, 2011 - 4:36PM

    No Talks with TTP savages. Hunt them down. they are nothing but fitna

    Afghan Talibans and TTP are entirely different organizations. One is fighting the invaders of its country and the other is causing mayhem

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  • biryani
    Nov 22, 2011 - 4:52PM

    yes military takes orders from govt. its an institution very loyal and obedient to govt. ISPR

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  • MarkH
    Nov 22, 2011 - 5:01PM

    Any peace with the militants will be fleeting using words, anyways. Just because there’s an agreement with the government to stop attacks, it in no way means they still won’t terrorize the citizens. Plenty do without repercussions as it is. They’re just not trying to topple the government.

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  • Imran
    Nov 22, 2011 - 5:56PM

    Rubbish! They themselves are patron-in-chief.

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  • Imran
    Nov 22, 2011 - 6:04PM

    @Ghaznavi:
    “These are our people who have gone astray. “

    It is outrageous to equate the acts of barbarianism, mass murder, and terrorism, to “going astray”. You can’t let the killers go scott free.

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  • Nov 22, 2011 - 7:42PM
  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 22, 2011 - 7:50PM

    I am amazed at the notion of talks and terms of proposed agreement.
    It is at best a ceasefire to let Taliban rule as they wish in their areas of influence
    in return of stopping attacks on Pak security forces and hallting suicide attacks in Urban / settled areas.

    Is that we want, closing our eyes to Taliban brutalities. I challenge all supporters of peace talks to confirm if the “AGREEMENT TO TO STOP SPREADING TALIBAN BRAND SHARIAT BY GUN AND SLAUHGTER OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS” ever been on any agenda in past or present? I can bet my last dollar that Taliban will never agree to revoke their right to kill anyone not conforming to their tunnel vision. You could talk to IRA because they had a political agenda and they did not want to convert Protestants British people to Catholic version. You can talk to Baluch Nationalists as they only want autonomy and control over their resources. They dont give a damn how others live their life. Taliban on the other hand consider it their divine right to convert the whole country to their ideology. The moment we handed over SWAT to them, they started marching on wards. They represent a diseased mindset unwilling to listen even to the ULEMA of their own sect. A dog gone mad can never be cured and has to be shot. This is a brutal reality, the sooner we accept the better.

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  • faraz
    Nov 22, 2011 - 8:16PM

    There should be no problems in having negotiations, but enforcement of complete writ of the state and liquidation of TTP must be the outcome

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Nov 22, 2011 - 11:33PM

    Here we go again….

    When will we realize that without dialogue there is no solution!

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  • rk
    Nov 23, 2011 - 4:48AM

    but army is full of taliban members…so confusing…!!!!!!!!!

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  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 23, 2011 - 4:49AM

    This is such a joke! How many times in the past have Taliban used “talks” to stop army attacks? The Taliban will again use “cease fire” to rearm and rest. (while demanding an end to drone attacks)! Then when resupplied and rested, they will strike again using some flimsy pretext! The army and the government are just suckers for PR points!

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  • You Said It
    Nov 23, 2011 - 9:48AM

    “The army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP or its affiliated militant groups,” the spokeperson said. “Such reports are concocted, baseless and unfounded,” he added.

    Absolutely right, there are no negotiations. Just give TTP the order and it will obey ;0).

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  • baldev
    Nov 23, 2011 - 10:07AM

    “He also added that any negotiations or reconciliation process with militant groups is undertaken by the government and not the military.”

    Now thats a good one !!!

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  • R S JOHAR
    Nov 23, 2011 - 11:27AM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    Fully agree with your comments. This is true that mad dogs cannot be cured and have to be shot. Hope majority of people in Pakistan realise that Talebans are their enemy number one who would take them to stoneage.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 23, 2011 - 11:28AM

    @ Imran

    I agree, but you can not ‘assume’ all are killers until proven guilty. Do you know how many Taliban are actually killers? How long do you think we need to fight our people? And for what? Uncle sam? Who continue to say DO MORE and is never satisfied.

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  • Imran
    Nov 23, 2011 - 4:31PM

    @Ghaznavi:
    These are not our people. What we know they have butchered 35000 of our country men, and even if not all killers, they are accomplice to heinous crimes. And they believe in the ideology of hate, which will prevent them from living peacefully, just like Malik Ishaq.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 24, 2011 - 1:42PM

    @ imran

    Let the justice system run its course. Revamp the laws, hang the guilty. By denying them justice (and killing them extra judicially), we are filling their cadres as more people will join them to take revenge from us. And these are our people, lets accept the fact, they are not foreigners, though supported, armed and financed by foreigners.

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 24, 2011 - 4:37PM

    @Ghaznavi:

    All rapists and murderers are also our people. Lets rehabilitate them instead of hanging or putting them in jail. By the way how many have been killed extra judicially? We have killed robbers , smugglers and kidnappers in fake encounters but never any high value militant. We even spared Malik Ishaq the self confessed killer and deadly opponent of a religious minority.
    You want due course of law for those who dont believe in any law. Have you forgotten the Green Chowk in Mingora, Swat. Even an advanced democratic country like USA could not afford normal legal channels of prosecution for enemies of state (in their eyes) and had to come up with GUANTANOBAY.
    In the end, I would request you to stop defending the indefensible for GOD’s sake.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 24, 2011 - 6:13PM

    @ Hasan Mahmood

    Who is going to decide who is a rapist and who is a murderer? The bullet, the bomb or your favorite drones?? Can you name any country where ‘suspected’ rapists and murderers are killed before being found guilty? And here bombs kill not only suspected criminals but also his family and his neighbors or entire mohalla.

    You mean to say, if i suspect you of any wrongdoing, its okay for me to blow your house, kill you family and your neighbours too?? Once found guilty, we can execute them but not before!!

    For your information, your ‘advanced democratic country, the US is not holding any american in Guantanamo. and why couldnt they find any jail within US?? Because this is against all human rights, geneva convention. It is even against their constitution. And out of more than 180m ppl held at Guantanmo, only 4 have been tried. And most are held innocent for years – those who ere unlucky at the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have been you or me. Consider!! Stand up for what is right!

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Nov 27, 2011 - 1:53AM

    @Ghaznavi:

    I only responded to your claim that we maybe killing militants extra judiciously. I just mentioned that we may have killed suspected rapists, killers, kidnappers etc in fake encounters but never any high profile militant target. The most obvious target could have been Malik Ishaq (the self confessed killer)
    who had all witnesses murdered. (Maybe he did not eliminate any witness but it was voluntarily done by sympathizers like you). Anyway we gave him full benefit of doubt as per law. Sufi Mohammad openly challenged our legal system and mind you he is a much softer face of militants.

    Anyway instead of going on a tangent please reply to the core issue as mentioned in my earlier post dated November 22.

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