ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Taliban peace talks at standstill: Pakistani minister
Publication Date : 20-09-2013
In an apparent hardening of the government’s position, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the National Assembly on Thursday that a move for a peace dialogue with the Taliban rebels had “come to a standstill” with a “serious blow” from Sunday’s attack that killed an army general and that the military and opposition would be consulted in reviewing the process.
In his first public comments on the Taliban-claimed roadside blast of an improvised explosive device in Upper Dir, the minister advised political parties to avoid making statements that could compromise the consensus reached at the September 9 all-party conference, which the government to “initiate dialogue with all stakeholders forthwith”.
And in what appeared as a snub to a suggestion by Imran Khan, chairman of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, that the government and Taliban form negotiating teams and announce a ceasefire, he said: “Nobody should advise us for a ceasefire.”
“This incident has dealt a serious blow (to the peace move),” Chaudhry Nisar said about the September 15 attack on an army convoy, which killed Maj Gen Sanaullah Khan Niazi, Lt Col Tauseef Ahmed and Lance Naik Irfanullah and wounded two soldiers while they were returning to their base after visiting a post near the Afghan border.
“We have come to a standstill,” the minister said in the first clear statement from the government, indicating that the process stood frozen after the Taliban not only claimed responsibility for the Upper Dir bombing as well as three other attacks on security forces on the same day but also put forth hard demands such as release of Taliban militants from the government custody, a general amnesty for Taliban fighters and return of troops to the barracks in Fata as preconditions for the proposed talks.