Minister: No talks with Pakistani Taliban

Dec. 12, 2011 at 1:19 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The Pakistani government is not holding any talks with the Pakistani Taliban as has been reported, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.

Any talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, can take place only after the terrorist group lays down its arms and surrenders, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported Malik told reporters.

It had been reported last week that Taliban Deputy Commander Maulvi Faqir Muhammad had confirmed the Pakistani government and the TTP, which is different from the Taliban in Afghanistan, were holding peace talks and that Islamabad had released some prisoners as a gesture.

Separately, in an interview with the BBC, Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani also denied the Taliban claim about the peace talks. However, he also told the BBC: "Whosoever surrenders and denounces violence, they are acceptable to us."

Malik said if Muhammad wants to hold talks with the government, he should come down from the hills, lay down arms and surrender himself, and only then would there be chances to hold negotiations, the APP reported.

"If TTP surrenders, definitely the government would consider talks," he said. Malik also denied release of any Taliban prisoners and said Muhammad is spreading disinformation.

The Express Tribune said the latest developments only show the TTP is not speaking in one voice.

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