Making it explicit: We will talk to the Haqqani network, says PM

Published: October 3, 2011
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Gilani lays out mechanism for negotiations with Taliban and other militant groups. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Gilani lays out mechanism for negotiations with Taliban and other militant groups. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

LAHORE: 

It had only been hinted at in the resolution adopted by the all parties conference (APC) on Thursday, but Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday confirmed that his administration is ready to start talks with all factions of the Taliban, including the Haqqani network.

“If negotiations fail to work, the government will launch military operations in the tribal areas,” he told a small group of journalists at his private residence in Lahore.

The prime minister did not specifically refer to North Waziristan – the tribal region where the Haqqanis are believed to be based – when talking about military campaigns.

He said that the approach currently being tried was similar to that which was tried in Swat, where the government offered a peace deal to the militants in 2009, but launched a military operation after the Taliban refused to honour their end of the bargain.

For the first time, the prime minister provided details about how the talks would be conducted. “We will not ask them to disarm before the negotiations since this is against the tribal culture. However, the political agents [government administrators in the tribal regions] will ask them to decommission themselves,” he said.

Prime Minister Gilani confirmed that the talks would be monitored by a parliamentary committee, to ensure transparency and civilian oversight of the process.

The nation’s chief executive took pride in the unanimity that the government was able to put on display at the APC, where nearly 60 political parties, as well as the civilian and military leadership of the country agreed to a resolution, albeit one that was phrased vaguely and did not mention the United States by name.

(Read: Their master’s voice)

Nevertheless, the prime minister said the show of unity had dissuaded the United States from its strident criticism of Pakistan and even claimed that the US had agreed to forswear future unilateral action in Pakistan.

“There will be no [foreign] boots on Pakistani soil,” said Gilani. “Pakistan has gotten assurances from the United States that there will not be any unilateral action like the May 2 Abbottabad incident.”

Several prominent politicians in the United States, including Senator Lindsey Graham, had called for unilateral action against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan after then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen testified before the US Congress that the network was likely involved in the attack on the US Embassy in Kabul.

Mullen had called the Haqqani network, a “veritable arm of the ISI,” a charge that the prime minister urged the media to essentially ignore.

Since those allegations, both sides have been trying to calm tensions, and the prime minister was keen to highlight Pakistan’s desire to play a peacemaking role in Afghanistan.

(Read: Harsh diplomacy – Back off, Gilani warns Karzai)

“Our common enemy, which does not see us united, might be involved in [former Afghan president Burhanuddin] Rabbani’s assassination and I categorically informed [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai that we should not play into the hands of such elements,” said Gilani, referring to what is believed to be a Taliban-backed assassination of the former Afghan president who had been charged with a peacemaking role in Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Oct 3, 2011 - 3:59AM

    The APC decided a couple of days ago to opt for negotiations. In that time Taliban attacks have continued, the kidnapped children and laborers are still being held, and the parallel government setup by the Taliban continue to exercise control. Lets go through this cycle once again. 2004, peace agreements fell apart, the same in Swat, then again in other parts of FATA. What will happen now to the government sponsored militias who are going to feel the state is betraying them? There is absolutely no sanction for the Taliban who know they can get away with whatever they like.

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  • Cautious
    Oct 3, 2011 - 4:15AM

    “If negotiations fail to work, the government will launch military operations in the tribal areas,”
    .The military has already made it clear it has no plans on attacking the Taliban and negotiations were not a factor in making that decision.Recommend

  • John B
    Oct 3, 2011 - 5:46AM

    So PAK do have contacts and addresses to send the invitation to Haqqani. Why then all the chest thumping against the US.

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  • Lee P
    Oct 3, 2011 - 6:30AM

    The PM must hold talks with the ISI first.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Oct 3, 2011 - 6:31AM

    What if the Haqqanis do a repeat of the SWAT Taliban and then GHQ refuses to go after the Haqqanis?

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  • rehmat
    Oct 3, 2011 - 6:54AM

    It is reassuring to learn that the lessons of Swat are not forgotten and the governmen has indicated that they will conduct miliyary operations if the terrorists organizations do not hold up their part of the bargain.

    IT would be interesting to see if their part of the bargain is going to be – no further violence to any civilians in any country or is it going to be restricted to no violence to Sunnis in Pakistan (attcaking NATO forces, Hindus in Kashmir, Non Pashtun Afghans and Shias, Sikhs, Hindus and Ahmadis in PAkistan being acceptable). This will determine how the world views Pakistan.

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  • ali
    Oct 3, 2011 - 7:10AM

    For the first time, the prime minister provided details about how the talks would be conducted. “We will not ask them to disarm before the negotiations since this is against the tribal culture. However, the political agents [government administrators in the tribal regions] will ask them to decommission themselves,” he said.

    Dude, the tribal culture has been destroyed by these people! How can you say that they are following the tribal culture? Stop believing the false information being given to you by the defence establishment and ask the people there what they want!Recommend

  • Bipul Rajput
    Oct 3, 2011 - 8:23AM

    Threats from Uncle Sam work like magic.

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  • Diggvijay Singh
    Oct 3, 2011 - 9:17AM

    “We will not ask them to disarm before the negotiations since this is against the tribal culture. However, the political agents [government administrators in the tribal regions] will ask them to decommission themselves”.

    Pakistan government has shown a lot of wisdom and maturity by coming up with this grand plan. The Haqqanis are very reasonable people unlike the picture that is made out of them in foreign media. When all the facts and arguments against gun trotting and violence are laid down before them I definitely expect them to start appreciating the advantages of a non-violent passive resistance movement. All that the political negotiators need to do is to win their hearts and minds. For god’s sake, let’s give peace a chance!

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  • Beta
    Oct 3, 2011 - 9:45AM

    So the terrorists(read Taliban) who are in hand with Al-qaeda which had staged the 9/11 are going to negotiate with Pakistan. Well, things cannot get uglier than this.

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  • Andri
    Oct 3, 2011 - 10:19AM

    hahahahahahahahah @ all and news

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  • RizwanTKhan
    Oct 3, 2011 - 11:26AM

    Good move. No need to fight the barbaric war of US. We wont kill our people just because US wants it.

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  • true Pakistani
    Oct 3, 2011 - 11:38AM

    this is totally ridiculous of our such a non-sense govt. attitude!!

    Mr. PM! we are too much filled with natural resources, in this newspaper I read an article where Dr. Sammar Mubarik told about the Thar Project and not only electricity but diesel can be generated for more than 500 years. and still we are begging for US help? this is totally ridiculous and shame on these person who don’t trust on our scientist.

    really no matter how harsh I speak about this govt. they will have no effect to it :@Recommend

  • Pundit
    Oct 3, 2011 - 11:45AM

    Rabbani was negotiating with the Taliban and……Recommend

  • Noor
    Oct 3, 2011 - 12:23PM

    @John B
    Yes, every agency has to maintain contacts with even the people from opposite camp.
    That’s where the back channel diplomacy is activated all over internationally.

    Pakistan is part of this very world, and Pakistanis breathing, eating, living on the same planet.

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  • M.Akthar
    Oct 3, 2011 - 2:28PM

    @digvijaysingh “haqqanis are peaceful & reasonable people……..”.
    Man, trust me. Even a paki like me is shocked at your comments. I accept & welcome you to be a pakistani.

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  • Abdul Lateef
    Oct 3, 2011 - 2:50PM

    Islamabad should start dialogue with Taliban without waisitng time as US has already round of talk with Taliban earlier. This is the time for GOP to create a pressure over US and implement APC’s resolution.

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  • Diggvijay Singh
    Oct 3, 2011 - 3:12PM

    @M.Akthar:

    According to the principle of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which I am a great follower of, there is no difference between an Indian and a Pakistani.

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  • Bangladeshi
    Oct 3, 2011 - 3:28PM

    I think its a good decision by the PAK gov. The haqqanis are legitimate stake holders in Afganistan while the US are the occupiers, They are bound to play a significant political role in the future of Afganistan. The only problem the US have with them is that the haqqanis won’t allow their country to be a puppet of US & India after the US leaves. But the US should get it through their head that no country can be subjugated for ever & afganistan is no exception.

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  • Brasstacks
    Oct 3, 2011 - 3:59PM

    @Lee P:
    Oh! I just love your comments. How apt !!!!

    Recommend

  • Pundit
    Oct 3, 2011 - 4:01PM

    @Diggvijay Singh: My tummy is aching with laughter induced by your postings.

    ““haqqanis are peaceful & reasonable people……..”.”

    Pls appear on Indian/Paki TV.

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  • Brasstacks
    Oct 3, 2011 - 4:02PM

    @M.Akthar: @digvijaysingh “haqqanis are peaceful & reasonable people……..”.
    Man, trust me. Even a paki like me is shocked at your comments. I accept & welcome you to be a pakistani.
    He is actually a Pakistani, let there be no doubt.

    Recommend

  • Pundit
    Oct 3, 2011 - 4:17PM

    The Haqqani’s have said that they are not in Pakistan….

    So Gilani’s talk with the Haqqnis would be an interference in the internal affairs of…….

    I think the strain is showing…..

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  • Beta
    Oct 3, 2011 - 5:58PM

    @Noor: to John B

    No one prevented you from eating, but you should not bite the hand that feeds you :)

    Recommend

  • Freeman
    Oct 3, 2011 - 11:15PM

    @Beta: So the terrorists(read Taliban) who are in hand with Al-qaeda which had staged the 9/11 are going to negotiate with Pakistan. Well, things cannot get uglier than this.

    Grow up, None of indians want peace in Pakistan AND Afghanistan. Its America who started first negotiation with Taliban Not Pakistan. This mean America started Ugly thing.CORRECT YOURSELF. Military is not a solution for the war. Paksitani Prime Minister is right we should start and do peace talk with the all groups who are fighting in Paksitan and Afghan to and help Afghanistan as well.

    After 10 years of war what America has got nothing accept wasted money on un-winable war and who reagion is going to be unstable.

    Recommend

  • Beta
    Oct 4, 2011 - 10:46AM

    @Freeman:

    Come out of blind denials, I am talking with respect to the scenario after US embassy attack by Talibans in Kabul. Listen, if you and me are ally and I tell you that some third X is beaten me, what you are expected to do, just telling me that ‘they are good ones and good friend of mine…’, its worst than the beating I got from that X. Recommend

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