Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) greets his Pakistan
i counterpart Nawaz Sharif as he arrives for their trilateral meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Number 10 Downing Street in London
October 29, 2013. (REUTERS/Olivia Harris)
Pakistan has announced that it has begun talks with the Pakistan Taliban in an effort to find a peaceful solution to end the years of violence that has plagued the country. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revealed this at a meeting with British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London on Thursday. Mr. Sharif, however, did not give any further details of the discussions and neither did he reveal what was on the agenda. The announcement brought mixed reactions from lawmakers and former political leaders.
A statement released by the Pakistani High Commission in London said Mr. Sharif informed Mr Clegg about the progress of the talks.
"The prime minister informed (the deputy prime minister) that the dialogue with the Taliban has started. He said that he hoped and prayed the dialogue works within the constitutional framework of Pakistan," the statement read.
Mr Sharif said the Pakistan government "could not wait and see the innocent people and members of law enforcement agencies being killed in the streets" of the country.
Since Mr Sharif won the general elections earlier this year, in what was the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan, he has been trying to stop terror attacks. He had promised to find a negotiated settlement to stop the killing.
After years of bloody conflicts that have seen Pakistan military facing stiff resistance from terror groups in the country's north-west tribal areas, attacks by extremist elements now threaten major cities in the Pakistan. Many in the country now believe that negotiations are a necessary step to secure peace.
Reports suggest that Pakistan's major political parties have backed Mr Sharif's plan to find a negotiated end to the violence, and government is now under pressure to show progress.
Voice of America quoted Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, briefing Pakistani lawmakers Thursday, saying details of the agenda and the location of government talks with the Pakistan Taliban are being finalized.
Commenting on the talks, retired military Brigadier Shaukat Qadir, who served for a number of years in Pakistan's tribal northwest, told VOA, the Taliban's many offshoots are a major concern for the talks.
"This is not a monolithic organization. This is a hydra-headed monster. So who do you talk to is one question. You talk to one person, the other fellow blows you up. You talk to the other person, the other fellow blows you up. So it's going to go on like that. The second part is, these are fellows who do not represent the aspirations of any peoples of Pakistan, and they are looking for political space through the use of force. And are you prepared to give them political space? If you are, then how far are you prepared to go?" asked Qadir.
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