Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Friday told the Taliban to end terrorist attacks for a peace process to continue even as negotiators from the two sides met for talks aimed at ending a decade-old cycle of violence.
A joint statement issued after state negotiators met a committee nominated by the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) made it clear that further attacks by the militants would not be tolerated.
The government committee said that if attacks continued, "it would become difficult to continue the dialogue process".
The Taliban committee claimed that TTP members were being killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and Karachi. It assured the state negotiators that it would urge the Taliban to stop attacks.
"There is no deadlock. Hopefully peace will prevail," Samiul Haq, a radical cleric who is the Taliban`s chief negotiator, told reporters after the meeting that lasted over an hour. He sped away in his SUV without taking questions.
The Taliban yesterday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a bus carrying policemen in Karachi that claimed 13 lives. There was another suicide attack on paramilitary personnel in Karachi today though no one was injured.
Despite the start of the peace process, there have been a string of attacks in the restive northwest. Two recent attacks on cinema halls in Peshawar killed 18 people.
Haq had earlier claimed that all Taliban factions had agreed on talks and that "some elements" wanted to derail the peace process through terrorist acts.
He said the Taliban had accepted that attacks were being carried out in their defence. He expressed his reservations over the government committee conducting what he said was a "media trial of the peace talks".
Though both sides have expressed optimism about the talks, scepticism continues to mount among analysts. The Taliban has put before the government a series of demands, including the imposition of Shariah or Islamic law and the withdrawal of the army from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.