PESHAWAR: Welcoming suggestions of Pakistani clerics regarding a ceasefire prior to peace talks, the Pakistani Taliban Tuesday night announced that they would reconsider their stance if the government was ready for a break in fighting.
Ulema (clerics) and representatives of various religious seminaries functioning under Wafaqul Madaris had expressed concern Monday over the “civil war-like situation” in the country and appealed to both the government and the Taliban to observe a “complete ceasefire” till the completion of the process of talks.
The appeal was made in a joint statement issued after a “consultative meeting” of the Ulema and teachers of seminaries held at a local hotel in Islamabad. It was presided over by Wafaqul Madaris chief Maulana Salimullah Khan.
Speaking to Dawn.com from an undisclosed location, the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the TTP welcomes Ulema’s suggestion for a ceasefire.
He, however, claimed it was the government which is launching the offensive against them, saying if it can take the lead in stopping the war, then they were also ready to follow it.
“We are ready to proceed with the APC suggestions and willing to have peace, there is no ill-will to the peace process among the Taliban leadership,” he added.
The welcoming gesture of the Taliban militants can be considered as a major breakthrough for potential peace talks as the TTP spokesman on Saturday assailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for changing his mind and giving a precondition of laying down weapons, saying his government was not serious about holding the dialogue.
“By telling us that we will have to lay down arms and respect the constitution, the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, showed that he is following the policy of America and its allies,” the spokesman had said.
About Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s offer of opening Taliban offices in the settled areas, Shahid said: “We welcome the offer but we feel at this moment there is no need of opening any office any where.”
Punjabi Taliban chief Asmatulah Mauvia, in a relevant development, reiterated to hold unconditional talks for peace and said the outfit would respond to the APC offer within three days.
Speaking to Dawn.com, Mauvia said that they were willing for unconditional talks and would respond within the next three days.