Government denies talks with Taliban
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interior minister and prime minister have both denied the government is holding peace talks with its homegrown Taliban, according to media, saying it would do so only if the militants first disarmed and surrendered.
The deputy commander of the Pakistan Taliban, who have been waging a four-year war against the government in Islamabad, said on Saturday that the two sides were holding talks, a move that could further fray the US-Pakistan relationship.
But both Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik denied the reports.
“Categorically, I’m telling on behalf of the government, no dialogue,” Malik told reporters in Islamabad.
Gilani left the door open to negotiations. “Whosoever surrenders and denounces violence, they are acceptable to us,” Gilani said in an interview with the BBC.
At the end of September, Pakistan’s government pledged to “give peace a chance” and talk with its home-grown militants.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, the deputy commander of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, told Reuters on Saturday that talks for an end to the insurgency were under way.