Taliban militants suspend talks with Pakistani government: reports

June 28th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, June 28 (Xinhua) Taliban militants in Pakistan Saturday suspended the peace talks with the government, blaming it for launching military operations in several parts of the country, AAJ TV reported. Tribal leader Baitullah Mehsood said the security forces had launched “unjustified” operations against the Taliban, saying that the operations were negation of the government’s pledges to resolve the problems through dialogue.

Mehsood said talks between Taliban and the government in the Swat valley in the northwest, should be considered as suspended. However, he said his supporters would not launch attacks.

When asked about the government complaint that Taliban had continued attacks despite peace deals and talks, he denied this had happened, adding that he had only responded to action by the security forces.

“The talks could be resumed when the security forces stop their activities and the government changes its policy,” the Taliban leader said.

Reacting to this, interior secretary Rahman Malik said the federal government had not held any talks with the militants.

Earlier, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar said the prime minister has given full authority to the army chief in connection with the military operation in northwestern Pakistan.

General Ashfaque Pervaiz Kayani has been given full authority in connection with the Peshawar operation and he could now decide whatever he deemed fit, Mukhtar was quoted Saturday by the Geo TV as saying.

Mukhtar said Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, in a meeting with the army chief, had authorised him for taking any decision regarding the operation.

Pakistanis are safe and the defence of Pakistan is in strong hands, Mukhtar said.

Meanwhile, security forces Saturday launched an offensive against Taliban militants who were threatening the main northwestern city of Peshawar.

The crackdown in the Khyber tribal region was launched following increased sightings of Taliban fighters in the city, where paramilitary soldiers set up bunkers and patrolled the streets in vehicles mounted with machine guns.

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