‘Give up pro-US stance first’: Taliban set terms for talks with govt
* Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan vows to continue jihad against US
* Warns tribal elders against meeting American officials
KHAR: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said on Sunday that it was ready for talks with the government, provided that Islamabad reverses its pro-American policies.
TTP leaders told a rally in the Inayat Kalay Bazaar of Bajaur Agency that they welcomed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s announcement that the government would negotiate with the Taliban and end the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR).
Yousaf Raza Gillani said on Saturday that fighting terrorism would be his top priority and offered to hold talks with those militants who laid down their weapons.
“We are ready to talk to all those people who give up arms and are ready to embrace peace,” Gillani told parliament, prompting loud support from lawmakers.
TTP leaders, including Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, Maulvi Sher Bahadar, Dr Muhammad Ismail, and party spokesman Maulvi Omar, also demanded the implementation of Sharia law and the jirga system according to tribal traditions.
Jihad against US: They said jihad against America would continue in Afghanistan. However, they added that they were ready to end their activities and improve law and order in Pakistan if the government showed flexibility.
Faqir said Islamabad should not cooperate with the United States, AP reported. “Whenever Pakistan will work for American interests as its ally, we will oppose it,” Faqir said, amid chants of “death to America”.
The TTP leaders said that the Taliban were defenders of the country and that Pakistan’s western border was safe because of them, according to a staff report.
They warned alleged kidnappers in the area that they would face consequences if they did not release all hostages within 24 hours.
The TTP meeting also passed resolutions calling for the removal of “unnecessary” checkposts in the area and the lifting of a ban on vehicles on which customs had not been paid.
Warnings: The TTP leaders said that they would not allow anyone to demand interest on loans; asked women to adopt the veil; and warned tribal elders not to meet American officials.
They reiterated that they were observing the ceasefire reached with the government, but said they would not surrender their weapons as long as America and its allies were present in Afghanistan. About 5,000 people, including hundreds of armed militants, attended the rally, according to AFP.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), said the new administration would try to prevent the US military from launching airstrikes inside Pakistan, AP reported.
“We will try our best to stop America from making any further attacks in our border areas,” Rehman told reporters in Multan.
A recent wave of violence in the country has been largely blamed on Al Qaeda-inspired militant groups operating from tribal areas such as Waziristan and Bajaur.
Two senior US officials - John Negroponte, the deputy secretary of State and Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of State - visited Pakistan last week to discuss with the country’s new leaders how best to work together for a new approach. staff report/agencies