Pakistan in negotiations with Taliban militants even as attacks continue

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Oct. 2 (UPI) — Pakistan’s government is holding talks with factions of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group involved with terrorist attacks in the country.

The revelation was made by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during an interview with Turkish news outlet TRT World Now Friday. He said the government was in negotiations with some of the groups he said make up the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TPP.

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Khan offered few details of the negotiations. When asked if he was seeking surrender from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Khan said he was seeking “some reconciliation” that will involve them laying down their arms. Afterward, they will be forgiven and allowed to become “normal citizens,” he said.

“I do not believe in military solutions,” he said. “I’m anti-military solutions. So I always believe that – you know, as a politician – political dialogue is the way ahead, which I always believed was the case in Afghanistan.”

The United States Institute for Peace, a think-tank backed by the U.S. government, describes the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan as one of the country’s “deadliest militant organizations” that’s responsible for attacks including one in 2014 that killed 150 people in Peshawar. The Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan could revitalize the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, according to the institute.

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Elements of Pakistan’s government have long been accused of quietly backing the Taliban in Afghanistan. But Pakistan’s military has been at war with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. The organization carried out 120 attacks during a resurgence in 2020, according to the Royal United Services Institute, a U.K. defense think tank.

After Kahn’s interview, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan issued a statement denying internal divisions and calling on its fighters to carry on attacks, The New York Times reports. The organization claimed responsibility for an assault on a Pakistani military convoy on Friday.

An unnamed senior Pakistani security official told the Times that the talks with the militants, which have called for Islamic law, would only happen “within the confines of Pakistan’s law and Constitution.”