MIRAMSHAH: The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said on Friday that it was ready for talks, but alleged that the recent air strikes in Shawal and Mirali areas of North Waziristan were proof of the government’s insincerity.

Addressing a press conference in North Waziristan along with TTP political shura member Azam Tariq Mehsud, the group’s spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said it had fully abided by a peace agreement reached between the government and its North Waziristan shura chief Hafiz Gul Bahadar.

He said the war had been started by the government which should now declare a ceasefire.

He denied differences in the TTP and said its dialogue committee had more authority than the government’s.

But he also said that the peace talks were mere propaganda and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should declare whether he was in a mood to hold them.

Shahid said the Taliban wanted to resolve all issues through talks but the government was focused on establishing its writ and the supremacy of the Constitution which, according to him, did not have a single provision reflecting Islamic injunctions.

He said that on the one hand the government was claiming to hold peace talks but on the other it was dumping bodies of Taliban associates from Peshawar to Karachi.

Azam Tariq said the government had started a war against Taliban 10 years ago. “Only after the government announces ceasefire, we will agree to declare ceasefire,” he said, claiming that it was a war in self-defence.

He said the TTP had conveyed its conditions to the government’s negotiating team and those had also been presented on the media but the government had made the talks conditional to adherence to the Constitution.

He said the government should release children, women and elderly people without setting any conditions and should specify a place for the talks.

He said the government should stop dumping bodies and raids.

Replying to a question, he said that polio vaccination had proved to be harmful and Dr Shakeel Afridi was the main criminal. He said the drone strikes were more damaging than the polio virus.

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