Taliban strikes off pro-US talks to negotiate with Gilani

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Khar, Mar 31: The Taliban's Pakistan chapter - Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) - has said that they were ready to hold talks with the new government if the latter reverses the previous regime's pro-US policies. It, however, said that jihad against America would continue in Afghanistan. At a rally attended by roughly 5000 people, the TTP leaders said that they welcomed new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's announcement that the government would negotiate with the Taliban. Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Saturday that fighting terrorism would be his top priority and offered to hold talks with those militants who laid down their weapons. "We are ready to talk to all those people who give up arms and are ready to embrace peace," Gilani told parliament.

TTP leaders, including Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, Maulvi Sher Bahadar, Dr Muhammad Ismail, and party spokesman Maulvi Omar, also demanded the implementation of Sharia law and the jirga system according to tribal traditions. Faqir said Islamabad should not cooperate with the United States. "Whenever Pakistan will work for American interests as its ally, we will oppose it," Faqir reportedly said, amid chants of "death to America".

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The TTP leaders said that the Taliban were defenders of the country and that Pakistan's western border was safe because of them, according to a staff report. They warned alleged kidnappers in the area that they would face consequences if they did not release all hostages within 24 hours, reported the Daily Times. The TTP meeting also passed resolutions calling for the removal of "unnecessary" checkposts in the area and the lifting of a ban on vehicles on which customs had not been paid.

The TTP leaders warned that they would not allow anyone to demand interest on loans; asked women to adopt the veil; and warned tribal elders not to meet American officials. They reiterated that they were observing the ceasefire reached with the government, but said they would not surrender their weapons as long as America and its allies were present in Afghanistan.


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