Taliban sets terms for ceasefire
February 20, 2014 - 10:55:54 am
MIRANSHAH: Taliban insurgents offered yesterday to observe a ceasefire to allow the resumption of stalled peace talks, provided Pakistani security forces stop killing and arresting them.
Government mediators suspended negotiations on Monday just weeks after they were announced following weekend claims by a Taliban faction that it killed 23 kidnapped soldiers.
The mediators set a ceasefire as a precondition for another round of talks. A total of 70 people have been killed since the reconciliation effort was launched on January 29.
“We are ready for the ceasefire if the government assures us that bodies of our colleagues will not be found in gunny bags and they will not be killed in encounters and arrested in raids,” Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said.
“The government has killed more than 60 Taliban since the start of the peace talks, in Karachi and the rest of Pakistan, under a secret operation codenamed Operation Root Out,” Shahid said.
“The killings of soldiers in Mohmand were in response to the onslaught on Taliban members by security forces during the talks between government and Taliban committees,” he added.
A faction of the insurgent group in Mohmand near the Afghan border announced on Sunday they had executed 23 soldiers who were kidnapped in June 2010.
The Taliban’s demands include the nationwide imposition of sharia law, an end to US drone strikes and the withdrawal of the army from northwestern tribal regions -- conditions unlikely to be met. Pakistani troops have for years been battling homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt, which Washington considers the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.
Taliban Movement of Pakistan, alternatively referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, is an umbrella organisation of various Islamist militant groups based in the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border in Pakistan.