KARACHI, Oct 9: Alleging that the government has not taken any substantial step for holding peace talks, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s notorious chief Hakimullah Mehsud said on Wednesday that his outfit would not hold dialogue (with the government) through the media.

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

“We don’t wish to negotiate through 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,” Mehsud said.

He said the TTP was ready for serious talks and would welcome such an effort from the government. He vowed to provide complete security to a government-sponsored Jirga if sent for talks.

Mehsud said the scheduled withdrawal of US-led Nato forces from Afghanistan would not change anything in Pakistan and the Taliban would continue their ‘activities’.

“We are engaged in a war with Pakistan for two reasons: firstly Pakistan is a friend of America and Ulema were killed and madressahs destroyed in the country at the behest of the US. Another reason for waging a Jihad here is the ‘Kafirana’ (heretical) system prevailing in Pakistan,” he said.

Mehsud said that the Taliban would continue to demand implementation of Shariah laws in the country even after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Drone attacks

The militant also said that if the US agreed to stop drone strikes, the Taliban would also stop their attacks.

He said that the Taliban were aware of the appeals made by Ulema who wanted the war to be stopped.

“But in the case of us ending the war, we also want a stop to drone strikes. If drone strikes are stopped we will be ready to stop our Jihad.”

Mehsud, who carries a $5 million bounty on his head, disowned recent blasts in public places including a Peshawar church. “Other agencies are involved in that.”

“The purpose of the blasts is to misguide the people against Taliban, so that the people who support us can stop doing so.”

Mehsud said that the TTP had distanced themselves from such blasts earlier and would do so again.

But he vowed to carry on attacking friends and supporters of the US.

He blamed the government for the failure of previous peace initiatives. “The government of Pakistan bombs innocent tribal people because of 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,” he Mehsud.

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

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