'Taliban ready for talks if troops removed from Pak northwest'
REZAUL H LASKAR\PTI
Islamabad, Aug 8: Days after President Asif Ali Zardari said the doors had never been closed for talks with militants, the Taliban have announced that their leadership would hold negotiations only if troops are "completely" withdrawn from Pakistan's northwest and adjoining tribal belt.
The Taliban's condition for talks was conveyed by unnamed militant leaders to 'The News' daily.
The militants said their leadership would hold negotiations on one point – "complete withdrawal" of troops from all parts of the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the tribal areas. "Taliban do not want to see Pakistan weak but the government's steps always negate our stance because of which the leadership of the Taliban is left with no option but to take steps for their defence," said one of the Taliban leaders who was contacted by the newspaper for comments on Zardari's statement.
This Taliban leader did not "advance any explicit argument in support of suicide attacks in Pakistan," the report said.
The daily quoted another source among the militants as saying that all militant groups in Pakistan, which are "almost united at the moment," are considering Zardari's comments as their victory.
He said the militant leadership in the tribal areas, where security forces are currently conducting operations, feel that perhaps security forces are "finding a safe exit for themselves" because of which Zardari made such a statement.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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