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Conditional ceasefire announcement within 24 hours likely; release of non-combatant prisoners, withdrawal of military from SWA demanded; PM says no demand against national security to be entertained
 
 
Monitoring Report
Monday, February 17, 2014
From Print Edition
 
 

 

RAWALPINDI: As many as 23 FC men held by the Taliban in captivity were beheaded, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mohmand Agency chapter claimed on Sunday night, Geo News reported.

 

Umar Khorasani, in charge of the Mohammad Agency Taliban, claimed that the held FC men were captured from the Shonkrai post in June 2010. There was, however, no confirmation or reaction from the government or official TTP spokesman till the filing of this report.

 

Khorasani claimed the Taliban had been asking the government to stop the alleged killing of their colleagues as the release of prisoners was their basic demand but the government did not listen to them.

 

He said the FC men were killed in revenge for the alleged killing of their colleagues by the government. Agencies add from Peshawar: The outlawed TTP decided a conditional ceasefire in its Shura meeting which is expected to be announced within 24 hours.

 

The Taliban demanded the release of its non-combatant prisoners and the withdrawal of the military from South Waziristan Agency for the ceasefire.A private TV channel reported that the Taliban also expressed reservations on some of the members of the government’s committee nominated to hold peace talks with them.

 

Earlier, on Sunday morning, the Taliban-proposed dialogue committee coordinator Maulana Yousaf Shah said the Taliban’s political Shura was discussing ceasefire with the government in a bid to end its violent activities.

 

Sources close to the official committee said the TTP wanted written assurances from the government regarding the ending of actions against the Taliban prior to any ceasefire.The sources disclosed that the TTP had serious reservations over the government’s actions against Taliban elements being carried out in all major cities of Pakistan including Karachi.

 

As such the Taliban wanted written guarantees from the Pakistan Army, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and other leaders.

 

Sources said the Taliban had warned that they would not stop their activities unless actions against them were also stopped. Maulana Yousaf Shah said the Taliban had sought some time to take a decision for declaring ceasefire.

 

Meanwhile, in an interview with a private TV channel, Maulana Yousaf said he contacted the Taliban leaders over the telephone and they asked for time so that they could take a decision. He was confident that both sides would announce a ceasefire.

 

It may be recalled that the Lahore convention of the Ulema and Mashaikh convened presided over by Maulana Samiul Haq had called for an immediate ceasefire to move forward the peace talks.

 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said despite all the negative activities from the Taliban side, the government was showing patience and wants to pursue the dialogue process in the larger interest of the country.

 

Talking to Irfan Siddiqui, coordinator of the government committee and special assistant to the PM, Nawaz said national security must take precedence in the dialogue process and advised the committee to continue its work with sincerity. The prime minister made it clear that any demand of the Taliban against national security would not be entertained.

 

During the meeting, which was also attended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Irfan Siddiqui informed the prime minister about the third formal meeting with the Taliban committee, demands put forward by the Taliban as well as their Shura meeting.

 

Irfan Siddiqui said the government committee made it clear to the Taliban that if they did not announce to stop their negative activities, it would not be possible to continue the dialogue process.

 

He said the Taliban have demanded the release of elderly men, women and children under arrest as well as the withdrawal of troops from South Waziristan. He said in return, the government committee has also put forward its demands for the release of kidnapped persons and the announcement of a ceasefire for at least one month. The prime minister said the government was ready for appropriate and reasonable steps to restore peace.