Gilani denies secret talks with Pakistan Taliban
Last Updated: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 23:28
  
Islamabad: Pakistan's top leadership on Sunday denied that secret talks were being held with the local Taliban, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani saying that any parleys will be held in the open only after the militants renounce violence.

"Our policy is that if someone doesn't resort to violence against us, if they denounce violence and surrender to the political agent (in the tribal areas) and say that they won't do such things, then they come to the mainstream," he said.

"But as such, we are not talking with any militants," Gilani said during an interview with BBC Urdu. He was responding to questions about senior Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad's claims that the militants were in talks with the government.

Asked if the government had secretly engaged the militants, Gilani said, "Nothing will be done behind the curtains, whatever we do will be in the open."

Gilani said his government had a '3D policy' for tackling militancy that comprised dialogue, development and deterrence.

This policy was the basis for talks held with Maulana Fazlullah, the former commander of the Taliban in the Swat Valley, and an agreement between the two sides.

"When that agreement was violated, we were left with no choice but to carry out a military action," Gilani said, referring to an operation launched in Swat in 2009 to flush out the Taliban.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik too denied that the government was talking to the Taliban and said there had been no change in the government's stance that dialogue could be held only if the militants laid down their weapons and surrendered to authorities.

"I'm addressing Maulvi Faqir Mohammad and saying, 'Tell the truth. If you really want to and if you feel for Pakistan, come out in the open, lay down your weapons and meet the political agent (in the tribal areas)," Malik told reporters in Islamabad.

"Seek forgiveness from Allah for your sins. The people may forgive you but in these circumstances don't resort to disinformation. Categorically, I am telling on behalf of the government, no dialogue (has been held with the Taliban)," he said.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, the fugitive deputy commander of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, had said yesterday that he is holding peace talks with the government and that an agreement could be signed by the two sides "very soon".

Mohammad said the government had released 145 militants as a goodwill gesture and halted military operation in Bajaur Agency, one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal districts along the border with Afghanistan. In return, the militants had pledged a ceasefire, he said.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 23:27


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