News Column

Pakistani Taliban Offer a Possible Ceasefire

Dec. 27, 2012

The Taliban in Pakistan have offered a possible ceasefire on conditions including an apparent resumption of government support to Islamist rebels fighting in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, a news report said on Thursday.

Asim Asmatullah Muawiya, who leads one of the groups under a loose-alliance of the Taliban network, sent a letter detailing the demands to Saleem Safi, a Pakistani television anchor for the Geo News channel, according to the newspaper The News.

The Taliban has been waging a deadly, five-year war against Pakistan because of its support for the US-led efforts against the insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan as well as a crackdown on Islamist rebels inside Pakistan.

According to the English-language newspaper, Muawiya wrote that the Pakistani government should also end its involvement in Afghanistan.

The Taliban leader blamed the Pakistani military for turning the Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan and Kashmir against the state by cutting off support to its alleged proxies, saying the rebels were only defending themselves.

"Instead of taking out the guns against the Muslims, the Pakistan Army should prepare to take the revenge for the 1971 war (with India)," the newspaper said, citing excerpts from the letter.

A refocus on the efforts in Kashmir, which has sparked two of the three wars between Pakistan and its arch-rival India, would attract the support of the Islamist fighters, the letter said.

It also asked the government to revise the country's laws and foreign policy in accordance with Islamic teachings.

But Muawiya said the Taliban would continue to target secular and anti-Taliban political groups, like the Awami National Party (ANP) - a senior leader of which was assassinated by a suicide bomber last week.

Muawiya warned the government against launching a counterinsurgency operation in North Waziristan, one of the seven tribal districts that borders Afghanistan.

"If we are attacked even those who are now away from fighting will take up arms and many more fronts will open," the leader warned.

North Waziristan is a known sanctuary of Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked insurgents. Pakistani officials have said that the military needs to consolidate its gains in other tribal areas before starting a new offensive in the North Waziristan region.

The News newspaper said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan endorsed Muawiya's offer for conditional ceasefire.

This is not the first time that a ceasefire has been proposed by the Pakistani Taliban.

The Pakistani military is believed to have an unofficial non-aggression treaty with some of the Islamist rebel fronts in the tribal region.

The Pakistani government reaction made no immediate response to the Taliban proposal.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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