The Pakistani Taliban have said they will not change their decision of withdrawing an offer of peace talks to the government because they are still mourning the killing of their deputy chief,Waliur Rehman,in a US drone strike.
“We are still in a state of shock at the martyrdom of our deputy chief and there is no change in our decision of not talking to the government,” Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said. “We had offered dialogue and wanted to talk to everyone,but the political government has no power and the powerful establishment has never shown seriousness for a peace dialogue,” Ihsan said on phone from an undisclosed location.
The Taliban withdrew its offer of dialogue with the new PML-N government a day after Ihsan confirmed on May 30 that Rehman was killed with six other militants in a US drone strike in North Waziristan Agency. At the time,Ihsan had alleged Pakistan was cooperating with the US in drone attacks,an allegation he reiterated when he was asked if the Taliban is willing to talk to the PML-N government.
Asked if the PML-N government had,directly or through any mediator,contacted the Taliban for talks,Ihsan said no one has contacted the militants since the new government assumed office. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in Quetta yesterday that the government is ready to hold a dialogue with those militants who want to talk.
However,he warned that the government will respond with force if armed groups pursue “militancy and terrorism”. The Taliban had previously offered conditional peace talks to the previous Pakistan People’s Party-led government in February. At that time,the government had asked the Taliban to lay down arms before any talks.
Days after the PML-N emerged the single largest party in the May 11 election,PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said he would take the Taliban dialogue offer seriously. However,there has been no progress so far and the US drone attacks have complicated the issue.