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PM Imran Khan says govt in talks with Pakistan Taliban to lay down weapons

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Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) speaking to TRT World journalist Ali Mustafa, in Islamabad, in interview published on October 1, 2021. — Photo courtesy TRT World
Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) speaking to TRT World journalist Ali Mustafa, in Islamabad, in interview published on October 1, 2021. — Photo courtesy TRT World

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan is in talks with some factions of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to get  them to lay down their weapons.

“I think some of the Pakistani Taliban groups actually want to talk to our government. You know, for some peace, for some reconciliation,” PM Imran Khan said during an interview to TRT World’s Ali Mustafa in Islamabad.

When asked to confirm whether Pakistan is actually in talks with the TTP, the premier clarified to say that talks are ongoing “with some of them”.

He said that the Afghan Taliban are “helping”, in the sense that the talks are taking place in Afghanistan.

The premier said that these talks, for disarmament, if successful, will lead to the government “forgiving” them, “and then they [will] become normal citizens”.

Stressing that he does expect for some sort of deal to emerge with the TTP, he said: “I do not believe in military solutions. I am anti-military solutions. So I always believe that you know, as a politician, political dialogue is the way forward, which I always believed was the case in Afghanistan with the US.”

The premier noted he always believed that a non-military solution was the only way forward for Afghanistan — and he has reiterated it time and again on national, international forums.

The premier’s comments came in the backdrop of Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in mid-August. Since then, the country remains in turmoil, with Pakistan continuously urging the international community to support the newly-formed government in a bid to avert a humanitarian crisis, which might led to instability in the region.

If TTP responds ‘positively’, so will  Pakistan

In September, speaking to Geo News, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the interim Afghan government had declared an end to the war, and thus, the TTP should review its policies. “Our issue with TTP is that they targeted innocent, unarmed citizens.”

The TTP should think about its future, keeping in mind its past actions, Qureshi had said, adding: “If the TTP responds in a positive manner, so will Pakistan.”

“But if they respond negatively, we will deal with them as we have before.”

The foreign minister had said Pakistan had time and again informed the ousted Afghan president Ashraf Ghani about TTP’s presence in Afghanistan and its involvement in terrorist activities, but his regime did not take action against them.

However, the incumbent government has provided assurances that Afghan soil would not be used against any country, including Pakistan, the foreign minister had noted.

President Arif Alvi suggests pardon

Before the foreign minister, President Arif Alvi said the government could think of pardoning the TTP members who were not involved in “criminal activities”, who would disarm themselves, and follow the law.

The president, during an interview on DawnNews programme “Khabar Se Khabar” aired on September 11, said Afghan Taliban’s “second- or third-tier leadership” had informed Pakistan that the TTP members could live in Afghanistan, but “they must not do any activity against Pakistan.”

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