Sharif says talks with Pakistan Taleban started

Pakistan prime minister says the government could not wait and see the innocent people and members of law enforcement agencies being killed in the streets of Pakistan.

By (AP)

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Published: Thu 31 Oct 2013, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:36 PM

Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that talks with the domestic arm of the Taleban have started, though he gave no details about who was taking part or what was on the agenda.

Sharif’s comments came during a meeting in London with the British deputy prime minister and were released in a statement by the Pakistani High Commission there.

“The prime minister informed (the deputy prime minister) that the dialogue with the Taleban has started. He said that he hoped and prayed the dialogue works within the constitutional framework of Pakistan,” the statement read.

The prime minister said the government “could not wait and see the innocent people and members of law enforcement agencies being killed in the streets of Pakistan.”

Sharif was elected this year in part by promising to negotiate with militants in the country’s northwest who have killed thousands of civilians and security forces.

Many are frustrated that years of Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas where the militants have their safe havens have failed to end the violence. They see negotiations as a necessary step.

Representatives of the country’s major political parties backed Sharif’s plan for negotiations in early September. His government has been under pressure to show progress ever since.

But the militants have shown little appetite for talks. They have demanded that Pakistan stop supporting the US-led war in Afghanistan, and that the Pakistani army withdraws troops from the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan that border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taleban has similar viewpoints and loyalties as the Afghan Taleban but a separate structure with separate leadership.

Sharif’s reference to talks taking place inside the framework of the constitution could prove problematic. One of the Pakistani Taleban’s demands is a much harsher version of Islamic law across the country than currently allowed in the constitution.

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