Ending conflict: Taliban name three guarantors for peace talks

Published: February 4, 2013
TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan talks with new member Adnan Rasheed. photo: AFP

TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan talks with new member Adnan Rasheed. photo: AFP


Barely a day after mounting an audacious attack on the security forces, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) held up a white flag, signalling its willingness to enter peace negotiations with the government if three senior politicians would act as guarantors.

Saturday’s assault on a military camp in the Lakki Marwat district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa claimed the lives of nearly two dozen people, including 11 civilians.

“We do not trust the army, it has always broken past agreements, even agreements we made with politicians,” said Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesperson for the proscribed group, in a video message. “We need solid guarantors who can assure us about the army, because the army is the real power in Pakistan.”

Ehsan proposed the names of three politicians who could mediate the TTP’s talks with the military: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Nawaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Jamaat-e-Islami amir Syed Munawar Hasan.

As a confidence-building measure, the Taliban called on the government to release five of their men who could participate in the negotiations – including Muslim Khan, Maulvi Umar and Maulana Mehmood. “The government  should release five TTP cadres  This is necessary so that a five-member TTP political committee can participate in negotiations,” Ehsan said.

Maulvi Umar, a TTP spokesperson and a close associate of Hakimullah’s predecessor Baitullah Mehsud, was captured by security forces in August 2009. Muslim Khan, the spokesman of the infamous Mullah Fazlullah, the TTP chief in Swat, was arrested a month later following a major military operation in the region.

In the 30-minute video Ehsan is flanked by Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistan Air Force technician and mastermind of the 2003 assassination attempt on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Adnan, along with dozens of hardcore militants, had escaped in the 2012 brazen Bannu jailbreak.

The video shows two masked men standing behind Ehsan and Adnan, with a copy of the country’s Constitution lying on the table in front of them. The Taliban have called for rewriting the Constitution in accordance with “Islamic sharia”.

About nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan’s offer to mediate between the Taliban and the government, the spokesman said that the militia would consider the offer of Dr AQ Khan, who is an “asset of the nation”.

It’s the second dialogue offer from the TTP. The first one was made by the militia’s chief Hakimullah Mehsud on December 28, also in a video message. Hakimullah is on a list of global terrorists and carries a $5 million bounty on his head.

The TTP spokesman accused the government of reneging on earlier peace deals and trivialising the matter. However, he added that his group would wait for a “positive response” to their latest offer.

He also sought to quell reported schism within the militia. The TTP is united under the leadership of Hakimullah Mehsud, he said and named Mullah Fazlullah as the head of TTP in Malakand, Umer Khalid Khurasan in Mohmand Agency, Maulana Abukar in Bajaur Agency and Waliur Rehman in South Waziristan Agency.

Ehsan renewed threats against secular political parties and warned of attacks against them. “We have an ideological war with Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement. We will target them for their secular policies,” he added.

He blamed the MQM for the killing of religious scholars and innocent civilians in Karachi. “We have declared war against the MQM. We have killed their leaders and we will continue to mount attacks against them in the future,” he threatened.

Ehsan threatened that his group would avenge the execution of Ajmal Kasab, one of the 10 gunmen involved in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. He called upon India to hand over the body of Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged to death in an Indian prison last month.

The TTP spokesman also claimed that his group’s presence is not limited to tribal regions. “The TTP is now a global organisation. It has a strong network throughout the world,” he said.

He also condemned the French military intervention in Mali as an “ideological war”.

“The French government has attacked mujahedeen in Mali and America has also agreed to support France. I ask the whole Muslim world to unite because it is an ideological war,” the TTP spokesman said. “If America is supporting France on an ideological basis then in same way all Muslims should unite and support one another.” (With additional input from agencies)

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Freakonomist
    Feb 4, 2013 - 3:40AM

    Tribune, not impressed, let your photographers come to my parties!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Freakonomist
    Feb 4, 2013 - 3:44AM

    Shame on the Government and the Army if they get into any dialogue business at this time, put these beasts in a corner, maim them and let them survive if they wish! I am so disgusted to read this news item.


  • Shameema
    Feb 4, 2013 - 4:15AM

    So now we know which political parties have been aiding andcabetting the TTP!


  • Iftikhar Khan
    Feb 4, 2013 - 4:35AM

    Their complete destruction is the only solution. Negotiations are only done when criminals surrenders.


  • Aslam
    Feb 4, 2013 - 4:36AM

    People, think about it… can these barbarians be so bold without both internal and Saudi Arabia’s active support????


  • Babloo
    Feb 4, 2013 - 4:52AM

    TTP , if it threatens and bad mouths india, it will be welcome by the establishment with open arms. It looks like TTP senses that after elections PMN(N) may gain power. So its striking a deal with PML. TTP gets complete freedom to rule Waziristans in return for not attacking the establishment elsewhere. Its called the Peace Plan.


  • Hassaan
    Feb 4, 2013 - 5:09AM

    What an irony. People were severely castigating Imran Khan for his “pro-taliban” stance and here we’re reading that TTP wants negotiations where Nawaz Sharif should come as a “Guarantor”. Now will you write an article on – “Shame on you, Mr. Sharif.”?


  • Iftikhar Khan
    Feb 4, 2013 - 8:12AM

    May be even with all his softness he has not been able to win them over! or may be TTP don’t consider IK worthwhile.

    I am with you 100% on your last line. Shame on you Mr. Sharif


  • syed baqar ahsan
    Feb 4, 2013 - 8:27AM

    Our people are innocent they are not understanding nexus between the TTP and our certain religious/political parties,it at the cost of our lives and blood,this way peace is far off.Our foreign developed/ imposed mind set is the biggest enemy of our country.


  • Javeed
    Feb 4, 2013 - 8:51AM

    Sharif Guarantor.

    Oh Dear Talban dont attack others alos.


  • Faisal
    Feb 4, 2013 - 8:54AM

    Negotiations will only strengthen them. One day we have to fight them. So better do it now. Treat it as a criminal organisation. Not a political organisation.


  • mahakaalchakra
    Feb 4, 2013 - 8:59AM

    @Hassaan: TTP may be thinking of using free services of Tsunami Khan as their interlocutor to negotiate with the establishment.

    IK is on TTP side that has been made very clear; that is why they did not propose the name of IK as one of the guarantor.


  • Dr K.Khan
    Feb 4, 2013 - 9:35AM

    Pak Govt or politicians should never fall into this trap of Talibans. This is a ploy by them to get their senior terrorists released, whose ranks are decreasing. If Talibans says that The Pak Army has the “real power”, then why don’t they talk or negotiate with the Army instead of talking to the powerless Govt or politicians? Our Govt/politicians should fully support the Army and should refuse to be divided
    The fact is that the Talibans are getting weaker in all aspects and are getting desperate. This is a ploy by them to release their fellow. We should eliminate and destroy them completely without mercy as they have murdered about 40, 000 of our men, women, children, policemen, soldiers etc, and destroyed our mosques, schools, buildings, houses , shops etc. We should remain strong and steadfast because one day th and the blood they have spilled will be avenged.and will be detroyed sooner or later. This is the law of nature.


  • saqib ali rana
    Feb 4, 2013 - 11:05AM

    a slap for all those calling IK “taliban khan”,now do you understand who’s aiding them?


  • Feb 4, 2013 - 11:36AM

    Let’s give peace a chance.


  • Feb 4, 2013 - 11:37AM

    Let’s give peace a chance


  • Ali Khan
    Feb 4, 2013 - 2:14PM

    No peace for ttp crush them once and for all


  • syed
    Feb 4, 2013 - 6:53PM

    @Asif khan:
    Peace will only get the chance when we start providing justice…. which punishing the barbaric criminals and protecting the innocent. Unfortunately right now we are doing the opposite, and will do worst if fall into this trap


  • saqib ali rana
    Feb 4, 2013 - 7:13PM

    @ali khan
    i guess we have already seen the effects of that effort in previous 10 years.


  • Assad
    Feb 4, 2013 - 7:35PM

    someone torpedoing Sharif’s chances…….good move!


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