THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ISLAMABAD / DERA ISMAIL KHAN, 14th SEPTEMBER 2013:
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) handed a list of 4,752 prisoners to the government on Friday who they want released.
A TTP leader told The Express Tribune that two of their commanders allegedly met with Pakistani officials in Sararogha, South Waziristan, and handed over the list in the initial step towards “negotiations and peace”.
“We have handed over the list of our colleagues imprisoned in different prisons of Pakistan including those on death row,” he explained.
Meanwhile, another commander claimed that in response to the government’s talks offer after the All Parties Conference held earlier this week, the Pakistani Taliban have formed a five-member committee that has drafted a list of demands that will form the basis of negotiations with the government.
Reportedly, this list of demands was drafted in a central shura meeting held in Miramshah, North Waziristan, headed by Hakimullah Mehsud and representatives of other militant outfits. However, another Taliban commander rebuffed reports of a formal shura meeting. The leader said that some leaders of the TTP and a few other groups are holding internal discussions and will finalise a strategy in the central council’s meeting to be held later.
‘Some don’t want talks’
Despite the headway in the peace process, the Pakistani Taliban have warned that “certain elements are bent on derailing” the negotiations with the government.
These comments came on the heels of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s similar note of caution as he too said some people were trying to disturb the talks with the Taliban. He also asked the Taliban to beware of these derailment efforts, saying that both sides must make progress in initiating the long-awaited peace process.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, member of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) political commission, said on Thursday that the Taliban leaders are closely monitoring the activities of the anti-dialogue elements. “We feel that certain secular elements, some retired generals and security personnel, are opposing the talks and are making attempts to foil the process,” he told The Express Tribune.
He also said some secular politicians are also part of these “conspiracies”. When asked whether the Taliban would advise the government to eschew such efforts, he said it is not for the Taliban to advise the government. “We are responsible for our own affairs.”
On the possibility of a ceasefire ahead of the talks, the Taliban leader said it would be premature to say something on the issue.
Meanwhile, TTP spokesperson for South Waziristan, Asimullah Mehsud, confirmed Wednesday’s swap between the Pakistani military and Taliban militants in the Shawal area of South Waziristan Agency. He said the six militants belonged to the TTP’s South Waziristan chapter group led by Khan Saeed. The exchange of the prisoner militants with two FC troops had been decided before the All Parties Conference held in Islamabad on Monday, in which a consensus was reached to begin talks with the Taliban.