The Pakistani government will engage in peace talks with Talban insurgents only after the militants lay down their weapons, warned the nation’s interior minister, Rehman Malik.
Malik declared to reporters: The minimum agenda is that they give up arms and come forward and then there will be talks. But if they think they will keep Kalashnikovs in their hands and also hold talks, that will not happen.”
While both sides are reportedly eager to hold new peace talks, since the Taliban is technically at war with the Pakistan state, it is doubtful they would agree to relinquish their arms. Indeed, Taliban soldiers have carried out devastating attacks across Pakistan for the past four years in an effort to destroy the U.S.-backed government.
Security analyst Mahmood Shah told Reuters: “The [Pakistani] government is saying accept the constitution and lay down arms. But the militants have other aims. They want to take over, gain power. They think negotiations are a joke. How can you talk to groups that don’t even respect the concept of Pakistan, never mind laying down arms?”
Previous peace talks between Islamabad and the Taliban failed.
The Pakistani military has taken offensive measures in the lawless regions near the Afghanistan border, where members of the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban, are based. However, the struggle, which has cost thousands of lives, has hardly put an end to the militants’ activities.
The Pakistan Taliban is also closely linked to al-Qaeda.
On the other side of the ledger, a senior official of the Pakistan Taliban told BBC that peace talks with the government could not seriously commence until U.S. and other western troops have completely departed Afghanistan (which is not scheduled to occur until 2014).
Meanwhile, Malik also revealed details of a plot by militants to abduct Bilawal Bhutto, the son of Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari and the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Malik also confirmed that militants are holding Shahbaz Taseer, the son of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer who was murdered last year for going against Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.