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TTP chief Mehsud rules out peace talks through ‘media’

October 09, 2013
Leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud during interview with a  BBC correspondent. — Photo by INP with the courtesy of BBC
Leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud during interview with a BBC correspondent. — Photo by INP with the courtesy of BBC

KARACHI: Criticising the government for not being able to take any substantial step towards peace talks, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud Wednesday said they would not hold dialogue through the media.

Speaking in a rare interview with the BBC, he said the Pakistani government should have officially announced initiation of peace talks and should have sent a tribal Jirga to them for that purpose.

“We don’t wish to negotiate with the media….neither do we wish to hear the government’s preconditions through the media nor do we want to put our precondition in front of it,” said Mehsud.

He said Taliban were ready for serious talks with the government and would welcome such an effort from it. He vowed to provide a government Jirga with complete security if it was sent to them.

The TTP chief said scheduled withdrawal of Nato and US forces from Afghanistan will not change anything in Pakistan and vowed to carry on with their ‘activities.’

“We are engaged in a war with Pakistan for two reasons; firstly Pakistan is a friend of America and Ulema (Islamic clerics) were killed and madrassas (religious seminaries) were destroyed in the country upon America’s command.”

“Another reason for waging a Jihad here is the prevailing Kafirana (infidel) system in place in Pakistan,” he added.

Mehsud said the Pakistani Taliban will carry on demanding implementation of Shariah laws in the country even after the 2014 withdrawal.

Acknowledging Pakistani clerics’ appeal for a ceasefire prior to peace talks, he said for any ceasefire to be credible it was important that US drone strikes on Pakistani land are stopped.

Distancing themselves from terrorist attacks on public places, Mehsud said spy agencies were involved in such activities. “Purpose behind those attacks is to move the masses against Taliban so that public support towards us is stopped,” he said.

The TTP chief vowed to carry on attacking “friends of America and devil believers.”

When asked why previous peace initiatives had failed, he blamed the government. “The government of Pakistan bombs innocent tribal people due to the pressure of America... Drone strikes conducted by Americans were (backed) by Pakistan. Then the Americans pressed Pakistan to start ground operations in these areas, and Pakistan complied,” said Mehsud.

“So the government is responsible for past failures,” he added.