‘Vigorous action if Taliban talks fail’

Published September 27, 2013
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — File photo
John Kerry, left,  US  Secretary of State meets in New York with Nawaz Sharif, right, Prime Minister of Pakistan during the 68th session of UN General Assembly Thursday, Sept. 26. — Photo AP
John Kerry, left, US Secretary of State meets in New York with Nawaz Sharif, right, Prime Minister of Pakistan during the 68th session of UN General Assembly Thursday, Sept. 26. — Photo AP

NEW YORK: In his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has indicated that while seeking a dialogue with the Taliban, the government is also considering a more vigorous police and military action against them should the talks fail.

Senior State Department and Obama administration officials, who briefed the media after the meeting, said the talks also focused on the prospects for initiating peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“We expressed our concern about the existence of effective safe havens on both sides of the border,” said the State Department official.

The prime minister acknowledged that this was a problem, a challenge, and a threat to Pakistani security, said the official while noting that Pakistan was now in a process of seeking negotiations with the leading militant group that is targeting Pakistan.

“But they also are looking at alternatives, including more vigorous police and military action, should those negotiations fail,” the official added. “And those actions wouldn’t necessarily be limited exclusively to TTP, particularly since the TTP operates in the same areas as many of these militant groups that target externally.”

The Pakistani team, which included senior members of the cabinet, informed the US team that they had held “fairly intimate discussions” with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his last visit to Islamabad.

President Karzai had asked for the release of Mullah Baradar, formerly the number two in the Taliban, who had been in Pakistani custody since 2010.

“And the Prime Minister had promised that this would happen within a few weeks, and it has indeed happened in the last few days,” the State Department official said.

The intent behind the move was to promote a broader process of reconciliation, which would ultimately result in negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council.

The Pakistani and US delegations also picked up issues from the Strategic Dialogue, a ministerial level process initiated in 2010.—Dawn Report

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