Chances of peace talks with govt ‘below zero’: Pakistani Taliban

Eurasia News

PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Taliban on Saturday ruled out talks with the government, saying the possibility of peace dialogue after the killing of their leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike were “below zero”.

Hakimullah Mehsud, who had a $5 million US bounty on his head, was killed on November 01, 2013 in a US drone attack in the restive North Waziristan tribal region.

“After this incident, there can be no peace talks. It would be too generous to say that the possibility of peace talks is zero; the chances are, in fact, below zero,” the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Ehsanullah Ehsan said in an interview to Newsweek magazine.

“You can’t engage someone in peace talks and then attack his home and kill his father. Hakimullah Mehsud was our leader, our hearts are heavy and our anger will soon be felt by everyone,” he said.

The TTP leader described interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s criticism of the drone strike that killed Mehsud as “shedding crocodile tears”. He claimed the “ruse of peace talks” has been used to eliminate Taliban leaders one by one.

“This is their strategy: they distract us from our security priorities through offers of talk and then eliminate our leaders. We will not allow this to persist,” he said.

Asked about the interior minister’s indignation over the drone strike, Ehsan said Khan was expressing guilt over his government’s involvement in a “wrong act”.

“But his government should have been more positive and proactive from the start. When they are so incompetent that they can’t defend their own country and they can’t defend their initiative for peace talks, do they even deserve to govern? They are (American) slaves,” he alleged.

Asked if he was suggesting the Pakistani government was involved in drone attacks, Ehsan said he was “110 per cent” sure the country’s security organisations were involved.

“For every drone attack, about 80 per cent of the information and ground intelligence is provided by Pakistani security organisations,” he said.

“Then how come Chaudhry Nisar is shedding crocodile tears? Chaudhry Nisar is responsible for the security of Pakistan. It’s his job, not the army’s, to run the system. If the politicians are not in charge, how is it possible to talk with these helpless and incompetent creatures?” he said.

“Our policies are not based on personalities. Whether it’s (army chief Gen Ashfaq) Kayani or (former premier Yousuf Raza) Gilani or anyone, we are fighting against the system and that will continue.”