Changing key players: Taliban talks were inconclusive because govt led them, says Gen Beg

Published: June 8, 2014
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Ex-military chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg says army is willing to talk to the splinter groups of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and  Baloch insurgents. PHOTO: INP

Ex-military chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg says army is willing to talk to the splinter groups of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch insurgents. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: 

The current stalemate in the peace negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) could have been avoided if the military was leading the initiative instead of the civilian government’s nominated interlocutors, according to ex-military chief Gen (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg.

In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Beg, who had served as the army chief from 1988 until his retirement in 1991, said that the army and Taliban were the principal stakeholders in the conflict and they should have successfully conducted the peace negotiations.

He is confident that the army will hold talks with all the splinter groups of the Pakistani Taliban who have distanced themselves from the Maulana Fazlullah-led TTP.

“The army will be willing to have negotiations with Khalid Mehsud alias Sajna. The army has always supported peace talks with the Taliban, however, the army opposed negotiating with the two top leaders Maulana Fazlullah and Khalid Khurasani who are based in Afghanistan.”

Both of those Taliban leaders are being used by India and other anti-Pakistan foreign forces, Beg revealed.

To a question on whether the army will be willing to free hundreds of Taliban militants from its custody – a major TTP demand, which the army reportedly had refused to accept it – his reply, was in the affirmative. “Of course, both sides will present their own demands when they sit across the negotiation table.”

Regarding Wednesday’s suicide attack on Fateh Jang Road in which two senior army officers were killed, Beg said it was a retaliatory assault by the TTP. “That is not the first time the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have killed army officers to avenge the military’s strikes. Both the army and the Taliban have been killing each other during the last 10 years in retaliation. Such acts by TTP will not hinder the peace talks.”

The Taliban and the army understand each other and they know how to make their negotiations meaningful and eventually successful, he said, insinuating that the talks were inconclusive because they were government-led. ‘”It [the talks] were troubled as irrelevant people were holding talks.

It will bear positive results when the army and the Taliban, who are the actual parties to the conflict, will meet to resolve their issues. There was no justification for talks between the government and TTP as it was bound to yield no results.”

About the negotiations with Baloch insurgents, Beg said that the army wanted to restore the government’s writ in Balochistan. “I think the army should talk to all those Baloch militants who could be helpful in restoring the peace and tranquillity in that province.

He hoped that the law and order situation will improve in Balochistan after the withdrawal of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces from Afghanistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Saleem
    Jun 8, 2014 - 11:04AM

    So what he thinks he should have led so that he could dole out money to them as well?

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  • Nadir
    Jun 8, 2014 - 11:50AM

    Wrong Mr. General. It is elected civilian government’s call to make peace or war with Taliban and government must be in driving seat. Army must only do what it is TOLD to do by government. Period.

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  • nrmr44
    Jun 8, 2014 - 1:17PM

    A lot of people would like to see power and position in Pakistan being taken over by Gen Beg and his kind. The more limited the Pakistani leadership’s intellect the better for everyone, because Pakistan will go down the tubes that much faster, and cease to be a nuisance to the world.
    From wanting to conquer Hindustan, to wanting to negotiate with irregulars – how the mighty warriors have fallen! But their self-confidence is as complete as their ineptitude

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  • Faisal
    Jun 8, 2014 - 1:43PM

    There is a third party in the conflict and that is awaam. If the army and TTP cut a deal not to hinder each other and leave the civil population at the mercy of the taliban, then this is no deal. Its the job of all armed personnel to protect the civil population. Its not their job to cut deals. TTP is now collecting bhattas even in rwp and lhr and no one is bothered.

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  • Wali
    Jun 8, 2014 - 2:25PM

    He didn’t say it but i guess i can infer he would expand the army’s role in running economy, foreign affairs and whatever else to get the results army desires… Have we not learnt anything from the history.

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  • Qamar
    Jun 8, 2014 - 3:50PM

    Who could have stopped Beg to take power when Gen Zia’s plane crashed? What he is saying is based on common sense. Taliban from start wanted to talk to military not civilian govt. You speak to people who you fighting not to bystanders.

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  • Zaheer
    Jun 8, 2014 - 4:25PM

    @Qamar:
    You seem pretty ignorant of facts. As soon as Zia’s plane crashed, Baig headed for Islamabad instead of the scene of the crash. Ishaq Khan was informed. He was chairman senate and under it, was always acting president. He took oath of office before Baig reached Islamabad. That is what stopped him and that remains his annoyance with the US that they did not stop Ishaq from taking oath!

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  • faisal
    Jun 8, 2014 - 5:28PM

    @Zaheer. u r very wrong. GIK took oath after a meeting of senior generals had decided he should take oath. Aslam Beg headed that meeting.

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  • Qamar
    Jun 8, 2014 - 5:43PM

    @Zaheer:

    Beg was on a plane not helicopter that he could land on crash site.And he did went on crash site for aerial view. If Beg wanted to take power Ishaq Khan’s oath wasn’t a hindrance even Musharraf became chief executive in presence of Rafiq Tarrar. Zia became CMLA in presence of sitting president.

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  • Rex Minor
    Jun 8, 2014 - 6:39PM

    Th General with strong backbones has a good point; it is the army which should negotiate with the Talibans and the army which should negotiate with the Indian Prime Ministet, because of their past experience in restrunning the administrations in East and West of the country. They would prefer the Prime Minister to look after the economy!!!

    Rex Minor

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  • unbelievable
    Jun 8, 2014 - 6:43PM

    Another military man who doesn’t understand the role of the military in a Democracy. He also apparently has short memory because the military was responsible for several prior deals with the Taliban and each one of those was a disaster.

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  • Qamar
    Jun 8, 2014 - 10:29PM

    @unbelievable:

    Ok now Nawaz dealt with Taliban would you call it a success? The problem is these people are paid fighters and as long as you dont pay them more than others they wont stop. Peace deals stop fighting so the flow of money.

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  • Jun 9, 2014 - 1:33AM

    The negotiating party with TTP should be government but the consultation of army is necessary.

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  • anonymous
    Jun 20, 2014 - 7:05PM

    Im all for the army, but he talks like that the army is not part of the country but the country is part of the army.. He should know that army is for the government to use not the other way around

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