Pakistani Taliban leaders meet to decide on talks offer
Posted on: 07:17 PM IST Sep 12, 2013
Islamabad: Top Pakistani Taliban commanders, including their chief Hakimullah Mehsud, met in the restive South Waziristan tribal region Thursday to finalise their response to the government's offer of peace talks.
A meeting of the Taliban 'shura' (council), which began Thursday, is expected to continue for several days and make a final decision on the issue of talks.
"The meeting began today and a final decision on the government?s offer would be taken in a few days," a Taliban source told PTI.
Sources said there seems to be a change of heart on the part of Hakimullah Mehsud, who was earlier dead against peace talks.
They said with the changing scenario in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is likely to firm up a deal with the government, things in Pakistan too will be different.
"There are other groups in Pakistan who are tired of this fighting and are willing to talk to the government. Mehsud feels that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan might stand alone in the coming days, and hence this meeting has been called, a source said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's plans for peace talks with the Taliban and other militant groups won strong support from all political parties during a meeting held in Islamabad on Monday.
Pakistan's powerful military too seems to be on board with the government.
Previous peace deals with the Taliban have quickly broken down and the militants have often been accused of using the arrangements to regroup and launch a new wave of attacks.
Pakistan says it has lost over 40,000 people in attacks carried out by the Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants who oppose Islamabad's alliance with Washington in the war on terrorism.