TTP response to govt offer soon: commander

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is seen on the left in this picture. — File photo

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is seen on the left in this picture. — File photo

DAWN, ISLAMABAD, 13th SEPTEMBER 2013: Senior Pakistani Taliban commanders discussed on Thursday how to respond to an invitation from the government to talks to end an insurgency that has killed thousands of people.

Leaders of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are expected to continue consultations for several days at an undisclosed location in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.

TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who was previously reportedly against holding talks with the authorities, is chairing the consultations, two Taliban commanders said.

“We are discussing the overall situation and the government’s offer. We will soon inform the media about our decisions,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said.

Earlier this week, he welcomed the offer of peace talks.

“We have taken the government’s offer seriously and commanders are discussing a future plan for proposed peace talks,” one senior Taliban commander said from an undisclosed location.

“The shura (decision-making council) is discussing the overall situation. It’s good that all Pakistan leaders have agreed to initiate peace talks,” another TTP commander said.

He called on the military to stop all operations against Taliban fighters in the northwest and called for a halt to US drone strikes. “We also want all our prisoners released and compensation for all those killed in military operations,” he said.

A third TTP commander said the Taliban would finalise the names of a negotiations committee and a list of TTP prisoners.

“We hope that the shura will take a decision on all matters in the next five or six days,” he said.

“We want guarantees from the government side. In the past, governments have not fulfilled their promises and we do not want to repeat that,” he added.—AFP

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