We are ready to negotiate, but not disarm: Taleban
The head of Pakistanís Taleban said his militia is willing to negotiate with the government but not disarm, a message delivered in a video given to Reuters on Friday.
The release of the 40-minute video follows three high-profile Taleban attacks in the northern city of Peshawar this month: an attack by multiple suicide bombers on the airport, the killing of a senior politician and eight others in a bombing and the kidnap of 22 paramilitary forces on Thursday.
“We believe in dialogue but it should not be frivolous,” Hakimullah Mehsud said. “Asking us to lay down arms is a joke.”
In the video, Mehsud sits cradling a rifle next to his deputy, Waliur Rehman. Military officials say there has been a split between the two men but Mehsud said that was propaganda.
“Waliur Rehman is sitting with me here and we will be together until death,” said Mehsud, pointing at his companion.
Pakistani officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
The Taleban said in a letter released on Thursday that they wanted Pakistan to rewrite its laws and constitution to conform with Sharia, break its alliance with the United States and stop interfering in the war in Afghanistan and focus on India instead.
Mehsud referred to the killing of the senior politician in his speech and said the political party, the largely Pashtun Awami National Party, would continue to be a target along with other politicians.
“We are against the democratic system because it is un-Islamic,” Mehsud said. “Our war isn’t against any party. It is against the non-Islamic system and anyone who supports it.”
Mehsud said in his interview that although he was open to dialogue, the government was to blame for the violence because it broke previous, unspecified deals.
“In the past, it is the Pakistani government that broke peace agreements,” he said. “A slave of the US can’t make independent agreements; it breaks agreements according to US dictates.”
Mehsud said that the Pakistan Taleban would follow the lead of the Afghan Taleban when it came to forming policy after most Nato troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.
“We are Afghan Taleban and Afghan Taleban are us,” he said. “We are with them and Al Qaeda. We are even willing to get our heads cut off for Al Qaeda.”
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