Pakistan begins peace talks with tribal leaders, Taliban

April 25th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto

Islamabad, April 25 (IANS) Pakistan has begun peace talks with tribal leaders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan, and with Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud who is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “We will give the nation good news very soon regarding the peace initiative,” Prime Minister’s Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik told reporters here Thursday.

The talks were aimed at bringing lasting peace in the country, he said.

Malik also lauded the ceasefire declared by Mehsud and expressed the hope that he would not back out of it.

Replying to a question on Mehsud’s alleged involvement in Bhutto’s killing, Malik pointed to media reports saying the Taliban commander had denied his involvement in the incident.

“A thorough investigation will be conducted into the tragedy and those responsible will be brought to justice,” he said.

Wednesday, Mehsud issued a pamphlet asking his cadres to stop violence in Waziristan, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan and other areas.

The pamphlet, titled “Elan-e-Umoomi” (general announcement), said: “Directives are issued to all the workers of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan from Ameer Baitullah Mehsud that a strict ban has been imposed on provocative activities in Waziristan, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan for the sake of peace. Obeying this order is compulsory and its violators would be hanged upside down and punished publicly.”

Also on Wednesday, Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umar claimed that the Pakistani Army had begun withdrawing from the tribal areas and that Mehsud’s pamphlet had been issued in response to this.

Malik, during his interaction with reporters here, said: “Tribal people are our brothers and the government will take all possible measures for their uplift and development of their areas.”

He said the government would remove the sense of deprivation the people of Balochistan and other provinces felt by bringing them into the mainstream.

“People of all provinces will be treated without any discrimination and they will get equal rights,” he added.

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