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Pakistan's main opposition asks gov't to begin talks with Taliban

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-2-8 8:57:56

Pakistan's main opposition party Thursday asked the government to start talks with the Taliban, days after the militants offered dialogue to end the years of bloodshed in the country, local media reported.

Taliban this week said they are ready for talks if the security forces gave guarantee of three senior political and religious leaders including the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

The government has not yet responded to the Taliban offer and section of the local media has claimed that the US has opposed any deal with the militants.

The opposition parties have cautiously welcomed the Taliban offer and the opposition leader advised the government to take the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) peace-talks offer seriously.

"The government should immediately start the dialogue process with the TTP," Nawaz Sharif, said former Prime Minister, who leads the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The TTP Monday offered talks with the government if three senior politicians Nawaz Sharif, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI- F) leader Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman and Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Syed Munawar Hasan are agreed to be guarantors.

Interior minister Rehman Malik had said the government would shortly respond to the Taliban's offer.

Nawaz Sharif lashed out at the government for being unreliable and said anyone would hardly agree to act as a guarantor for the process.

Calling for result-oriented negotiations, the PML-N chief said the country is in need of peace.

Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, had also called for the release of Taliban detainees, including two former spokesmen, Maulvi Said Omar and Muslim Khan, both arrested in 2009. Ehsan said Maulvi Omar and Muslim Khan would lead the Taliban delegation in the proposed talks.

The government, had in the past, refused to hold talks with the Taliban unless they stop attacks and lay down arms. However, Taliban have not given any indication to stop attacks before the negotiations are to be started.
Posted in: Central & South Asia