Pakistani Taliban face rift over gov’t peace talks offer

Saturday, August 24th, 2013 7:20:22 by

Pakistani Taliban face rift over the issue of talks with the government as the central chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, has sacked a senior leader after he expressed willingness to talk to the government. 

Astmatullah Muavia, senior leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and chief of the faction in Punjab province, welcomed the dialogue offer by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday.  

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his televised address last week had offered talks to the armed militants to end bloodshed. He however warned use of force if the Taliban refused to talk and continued their attacks.

The Taliban chief Hakimullah sacked Muavia for his statement in favour of talks with the government and said Muavia had no power to make decisions without approval of the central council.


The TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shaihid said that the militia has removed Muavia from his post and announced that a new chief would be inducted soon.


The decision to remove the Asmatullah Muavia was taken at a meeting chaired by TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud at an undisclosed location. The meeting directed all the militants not to contact Muavia, the TTP spokesman said.


Muavia rejected the TTP decision of his removal and said that the Punjabi Taliban had its own “Shura” or council and the TTP had no authority to remove him.


Muavia had earlier argued that negotiations between the government and the militants would strengthen peace efforts. 


Different approach in the Taliban ranks about the talks offer reflects their internal differences which could further weaken them.

The Taliban had offered conditional dialogue to the former government in February however the government had asked them to lay down arms before the talks. The Taliban had rejected the condition. 

The TTP withdrew the offer in early June as a protest over the killing of its deputy chief, Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud in a US drone strike in North Waziristan.

The Taliban then also increased attacks on the security forces which killed nearly 400 people since the new government has taken over in June.



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