PESHAWAR/ ISLAMABAD: Senior government officials on Thursday rejected the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) offer for a ceasefire, unless it was authenticated by the outlawed group’s leadership itself.
In a letter sent by TTP spokesman Amir Muawiya, the banned outfit outlined conditions for a ceasefire, which include the adoption of the Shariah and breaking off ties with the United States. TTP also demanded Pakistan stop its involvement in the war pitting Afghan insurgents against the Kabul government and refocus on a war of ‘revenge’ against India.
The ceasefire conditions were confirmed by TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan. In a phone call to Reuters, he said Pakistan should rewrite its laws and constitution according to the Shariah.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has rejected any offer of a ceasefire unless it comes from the TTP leader himself. “I reject all these offers, and any future claims, of Ehsanullah Ehsan, unless and until Hakeemullah Mehsud owns them himself.”
Talking to journalists at Sukkur Airport before leaving for Garhi Khuda Bux, he urged Mehsud to come out of hiding and confess all his terrorist activities before the people of Pakistan.
A second government official, who asked not to be identified, dismissed the ceasefire proposal as “preposterous”.
“They are a bunch of criminals. This is not the Afghan Taliban. They are not open to talks,” the official said.
“No one can take such an offer or terms seriously. The TTP is not a proper entity, certainly not one any government can negotiate with.”
In his comments, Ehsan said TTP was ready to abide by a ceasefire “as long as they (the government) meet our demands, put an Islamic system into place, fix their foreign policy and stop agreeing to America’s demands.”
The militants accused Pakistan’s army of acting as “mercenaries” for America and pledged to continue attacks on two major political parties they say serve US interests. “The big mistake (the government) made is that they fought America’s war in Afghanistan and brought it into Pakistan,” Ehsan said, adding “We do not accept Pakistan’s present secular and pro-West system and its constitution.”
“We also oppose Pakistan’s pro-West foreign policy and if the government wants us to announce a ceasefire, it will have to accept all our demands.”
(WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN SUKKUR)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2012.