Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to hold talks with govt if 3 politicians act as guarantors

Asserting that it has no confidence in the army, the banned Pakistani Taliban today said it would hold talks with the government if three top politicians, including PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, acted as guarantors for the negotiations.

"We have no confidence in the army. To increase our confidence in the army, we want the three persons I named, (Jamaat-e-Islami chief) Munawar Hasan, (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader) Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, as guarantors," Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said in a video message.

The Taliban have no confidence in the army as it had violated agreements signed in the past, Ihsan said in the video that was aired by television news channels.

Ihsan also called on the government to free three members of the Taliban's political committee, Muslim Khan, Haji Umar and Maulana Mehmood, who had been captured by security forces.

He said this was necessary so that the five-member political committee can participate in negotiations.

He said his group had given a "firm response" to the government's offer for talks.

The government's failure to respond indicated it was not serious about holding talks, he claimed.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud, in a video sent to journalists in December, had said his group is willing to negotiate with the government but would not disarm.

The government has said talks can be held only after the militants give up violence.

Referring to disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan's offer to act as a mediator between the Taliban and the government, Ihsan said his group would be willing to consider this proposal.

Ihsan further said the Taliban had decided to confront the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a member of Pakistan's ruling coalition and the dominant party in the country's largest city of Karachi.

He claimed responsibility for a recent bomb attack on MQM workers returning from a rally and the assassination of MQM legislator Manzar Imam.

Ihsan warned that the Taliban would step up attacks on the MQM.

Ihsan appeared in the video wearing a white shalwar kameez and a black waistcoat, with two masked men clad in fatigues standing behind him with assault rifles.

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