PESHAWAR - Taliban have welcomed the five-point declaration of an All Parties Conference (APC) organised by JUI-F, which calls for steps to restore peace in tribal areas.
“The political parties have sent a positive message by excluding the word terrorism from the joint declaration. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Shura gives it high regards,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesmen for the banned militant outfit, told a private TV channel and BBC on Friday via telephone from an undisclosed location.
The spokesman, however, said that Taliban were still waiting for a ‘positive response’ from the Pakistani military on the offer of peace talks. He said the powerful military was the real force in the country and the talks without army’s participation would be a futile attempt. He was of the view that dialogue with political parties minus army leadership would not produce effective and long-lasting results. Ehsan said from the very outset, they had the view that army was the real axis of power in the country and that was why they were seeking Pakistan army’s guarantee from the politicians.
Ehsan said Taliban council also respected the gesture of all the political and non-political forces which have shown confidence in the members of the tribal Jirga and have tasked them for holding peace talks. “We welcome and respect this decision,” he said.
The Taliban spokesman said a serious sitting for peace would help assess the seriousness of the government, the army and other stakeholders in moving ahead with the peace process. He said that such a step would also help judge “the powers of the Jirga for holding such talks independently.”
Asked if the militants were willing to endorse a ceasefire and seize attacks on Pakistani security forces, the spokesman said: “It will only begin when we are on the table (for peace talks).”
“Ceasefire and such modalities can be discussed when we kick start the peace process,” he said.
To another query about announcing the TTP Jirga team, which will be coming forward for the peace talks, he said:
“If most of the country’s forces can agree and build consensus on some figures to be part of the Jirga, the Taliban will also propose their own names,” he said when asked about members of the team which may engage in peace negotiations. He, however, declined to disclose any names.