Pakistani Taliban welcomes Sharif’s talks offer

Islamabad, Jan 29 (IANS) The Pakistani Taliban Wednesday welcomed the dialogue offer by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hinted at a ceasefire if the “government makes some progress”.

The Taliban statement came shortly after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offered peace talks to the militants and formed a four-member committee for the talks.
The prime minister also warned in his speech in parliament of the use of force if the Taliban continued their attacks.
“We welcome the talks offer. The prime minister’s offer indicates his seriousness,” Xinhua quoted Asmatullah Muaweya, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander, as saying.
“If the government offers ceasefire we will also give a positive response,” said Muaweya, who leads the Taliban fighters from Punjab province. He operates from the North Waziristan tribal region.
Another senior Taliban commander, Hamza, also hailed the dialogue offer but called for more progress.
Hamza, special adviser to the Pakistani Taliban chief, Maulvi Fazalullah, said Taliban’s council will also announce a committee for dialogue if the government makes some progress.
He told the media that the government has, for the first time, taken a serious step to form a committee for dialogue.
“We want the dialogue committee to be given complete powers,” the Taliban commander said.
Prime Minister Sharif told the National Assembly earlier in the day that the government has adopted the path of talks with the Taliban to give peace another chance in the larger interest of the country.
The prime minister hoped the Taliban would initiate the process with good intentions for its success.
“Dialogue and terrorism cannot go together; therefore, the incidents of terrorism should come to an end,” he said.
The opposition parties welcomed the prime minister’s offer and announced their support.
Speaking on the occasion, Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said the entire opposition stood by the government for the security and stability of the country and it will not do any politics on sensitive issues.
Opposition leader and chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, Imran Khan, while supporting the government’s initiative for the dialogue process, suggested it should be held openly.
He said politicians should stop giving conflicting statements on the issue because there is a dire need to unite the nation.
Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman said his party has to take forward the national consensus developed by the All Parties Conference. He appreciated the prime minister for again according priority to the peace and dialogue process and giving a future roadmap for negotiations.
Meanwhile, a member of the peace committee constituted by the government, Rustam Shah Mohmand, said he was ready to use his good offices to promote the cause of peace.
He told the media after the announcement of the names of the committee members by the prime minister in the National Assembly that the issue of insurgency and militancy is a threat not only to the tribal regions but to other areas of the country as well.