Pakistani Taliban offered conditional dialogue offer to the government on February 4 that raised hopes for an important move to end the years of violence which has claimed lives of nearly 40,000 people including security forces in nearly 10 years.
The government has not yet responded to the offer and Interior Minister Rehman Malik says Taliban are ‘neither serious nor sincere’ in talks with the government.
Taliban have similar views about Malik and the government and the TTP spokesman says they have not received any response by the government.
Taliban’s conditions had created doubts over the fate of the talks as they were seemed difficult to be acceptable for the government.
Taliban, in a video message, had sought guarantee of three senior religious and political leaders as the Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan said they do not trust the security forces. He claimed that the government had ‘violated’ previous peace deals and now want guarantee.
Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Munawar Hasan were selected by the Taliban as the would-be guarantors. These leaders have not agreed to play the role of mediators but are asking the government to begin talks with the Taliban.
Taliban have had also called for the release of their two former spokesmen – Maulvi Said Umer and Muslim Khan, who the spokesman says will lead the Taliban negotiation team.
Many of the Taliban detainees are in the custody of the security forces, who had always been reluctant to free any militant, especially those who could pose threat.
Rehman Malik viewed with suspicious the Taliban dialogue offer and said the Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan has no credibility and that Taliban cannot befool the Pakistani nation by such jokes.
He claimed the Taliban have nominated Adnan Rashid, who is a proclaimed offender, and fled last year when armed Taliban stormed the prison in the country’s northwestern district of Bannu.
Rashid was involved in masterminding attack on former President Pervez Musharraf. He appeared in the video when the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman offered talks in the video message.
The TTP spokesman has denied Malik’s claim and said that Rashid appeared in the video with him as an ordinary TTP member and that he has not been nominated member of the negotiation team.
The Interior Minister urged the Taliban to nominate their real representative, if they are serious in holding peace talks with the government.
Malik calls for halt to Taliban attacks and laying of arms before the talks are to be started. Taliban have rejected these demands, which has further complicated the process.