The Pakistani Taliban are ready for dialogue with the new PML-N government but will launch a “full scale war” if an operation is started against them,a top commander has said.
“If they (government) want dialogue we are ready to talk and if they want to go for war,they will find us ready for this option too,” said Ihsanullah Ihsan,a senior member of the “political commission” of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The Taliban had offered dialogue for “peace and Islam” and it is now up to the PML-N government to come up with clear options,Ihsan was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune on Thursday.
Ihsan was responding to remarks by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan,who said on Tuesday that the government was ready for peace and war.
Ihsan,sacked as the Taliban spokesman by the central leadership in June,telephoned The Express Tribune to convey the Taliban’s reaction to Khan’s comments.
“If (Khan) prefers the option of war,we will be 100 per cent ready to accept the challenge,” he said.
Ihsan said the PML-N had earlier pleaded for peace talks and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had himself expressed a desire for talks. “However,the PML-N government has not taken any practical step towards talks so far and now the Interior Minister is publicly giving threats of a war,” he said.
The Interior Minister said the government has considered the Taliban’s offer of dialogue but has left a final decision to a proposed conference of political and religious parties with representation in parliament.
The Taliban had offered a conditional dialogue to the previous PPP-led coalition in February. The PPP ignored it and asked the militants to lay down their arms and accept the Constitution before any talks.
The Taliban withdrew a similar offer for talks with the new PML-N government in early June,days after a US drone strike killed their deputy chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud in North Waziristan.
Following the May 11 general election,the Taliban have increased their attacks across Pakistan,killing nearly 400 people in just two months.