Pakistan Refuses Taliban’s Proposal for Talks, Calls for Unconditional Surrender Instead

Pakistan Refuses Taliban's Proposal for Talks, Calls for Unconditional Surrender Instead

The Pakistani government has rejected a recent proposal by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to restart peace negotiations, pointing to past unsuccessful experiences with dialogue as the primary reason for their refusal. 

In spite of the TTP showing readiness to return to the negotiation table through various channels and personal contacts, the authorities instead demanded that the insurgents unconditionally surrender, based on insider reports. 

Last year, at the urging of the Afghan Taliban administration based in Kabul, the Pakistani government initiated discussions with the TTP, which was coupled with a declared ceasefire. Nonetheless, the TTP abruptly broke off the truce in November, just ahead of General Asim Munir’s appointment as Pakistan’s new army chief. 

Following the ceasefire’s dissolution, a series of attacks against police, security forces, and government facilities, particularly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s southern districts, occurred. These concentrated assaults were attributed to the TTP. 

An upper-ranking government official disclosed that Afghanistan’s acting interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, served as a go-between in the previous discussions. Despite this, he was not appointed as a guarantor for the said negotiations. 

“We require substantial assurances,” the top official stated to The Express Tribune. “Without a credible guarantor, dialogues will be futile. Therefore, we promptly dismissed the proposal when it was presented,” he further explained. 

The Pakistani authorities have unequivocally communicated to the TTP that they are open to accepting any militants willing to surrender, stating that past interactions with the TTP have only led to damages for Pakistan. “Hence, we are now insisting on tangible assurances,” the official added. 

The current coalition government has consistently attributed the ongoing surge of terrorism in the country to previous talks between the erstwhile ruling PTI government and the TTP. In response to orders from parliament, a committee, led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, was formed to investigate this issue. However, the committee has not convened to date. 

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Pakistan has been consistently urging the Afghan Taliban to take stringent measures against the TTP. The Kabul administration has consequently detained or expelled several TTP leaders. 

The recent visits by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul were also related to this ongoing concern. The issue was also discussed during the Afghan foreign minister’s visit to Pakistan. 

A senior official stressed that the Afghan Taliban is not prepared to use force against the TTP, and Pakistan has no plans to cross into Afghanistan to dismantle TTP bases, in respect of their amicable relations with the neighbouring country. 

On Monday, The Express Tribune reported that Pakistan had informed the provisional Afghan government that it could only contemplate negotiations with the TTP if the extremist group conceded to surrender and lay down their arms. 

Insider sources have revealed to The Express Tribune that under the current conditions, Pakistan is not seeking further dialogues with the TTP. However, despite Pakistan’s rejection of peace talks, the Afghan Taliban continues to express interest in renewing the process of dialogue.

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