A file picture of Taliban militants with their weapons in Jalalabad
Islamabad, Dec. 27: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan have outlined conditions for a ceasefire that includes an end to Pakistan’s participation in the Afghan war, “revenge” for the 1971 war with India and reshaping of the Constitution and foreign policy according to the Quran.
The Taliban, in a letter sent to daily The News, demanded that Pakistan stop its involvement in the war pitting Afghan insurgents against the Kabul government and refocus on a war of “revenge” against India.
“Instead of taking out guns against Muslims, the Pakistan Army should prepare to take revenge for the 1971 war (with India). This will also add the potential of Kashmiri mujahideen to our forces,” the Taliban letter said.
the move comes as the focus in Afghanistan shifts from a military push by Nato troops to potential peace talks amid speculation of a rift between top Pakistan Taliban leaders.
Military officials said last month that Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had lost operational command to his deputy, Wali ur-Rehman, considered to be more open to reconciliation with the Pakistani government.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, they have launched devastating attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.
Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told The Telegraph that the Taliban proposal had the full backing of the group.
The letter says that the Taliban was dragged into a war with Pakistan from the Afghanistan and Kashmir fronts. The government and the Pakistani army were responsible for this, the letter added.
The war was started by the Pakistan Army and the Taliban are only defending themselves, which is their religious right, the letter says.
While anti-US sentiments run high in Pakistan with the majority accusing the government of mortaging its sovereignty and self-respect to the US for meagre financial aid, the government says that it is willing to negotiate with the Taliban only if they agree to surrender arms and respect the country’s Constitution and the law.
The Taliban letter said any religious scholar will confirm that the defence of dignity, self-respect, life, property and faith is the right of every Muslim and fighting for this right is called jihad.
It said the Pakistan army should become a “Pure Islamic Army” and not act as mercenaries for America.
The Taliban revealed that it was not targeting the Jamaat-e-Islami of Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman but these parties should also revise their positions and statements.
It said the Taliban had taken a quiet approach towards the PML-N and Tehrik-e-Insaf but the Awami National Party had sold itself. The MQM, the letter claimed, had also adopted a similar position. “If the ANP changes its policies and apologises for its past mistakes, the Taliban is prepared to forgive them,” the letter said.
Interior minister Rehman Malik rejected any offer of a ceasefire unless it came from the Pakistan Taliban leader. “I reject all these offers, and any future claims, of Ehsanullah Ehsan, unless and until Hakeemullah Mehsud owns them up himself,” Malik said.
A second government official, who asked not to be identified, dismissed the proposal as “preposterous”. “They are a bunch of criminals. This is not the Afghan Taliban. They are not open to talks,”the official said.
22 soldiers abducted
The Taliban today seized at least 22 men from a regional paramilitary force in attacks on three checkpoints in northern Pakistan, a regional official said.
The Taliban and other Pakistani sources put the number higher.