Taliban not serious about talks: Rehman Malik

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 10, 2013 09:20 hrs

Islamabad, Feb 10 (IANS) The Taliban are neither serious nor sincere about peace talks with the government, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said.

The minister's remarks came after Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan offered "conditional" talks and called for the release of two former spokesmen Maulvi Said Umer and Muslim Khan, Xinhua reported.

The spokesman said the two will lead the Taliban negotiation team.

Malik said the Taliban's offer for dialogue was "suspicious" and that Ehsan has no credibility.

He said the Taliban cannot fool the Pakistani nation with such "jokes".

However, the minister appreciated the offer from the Taliban before the general elections and termed it a "good omen".

"If they believe in Pakistan's sovereignty, they must stop killing innocent people," Malik said.

"Taliban better send in elders to negotiate peace with the government. It would also show how serious they are to make talks successful", Geo News quoted Malik as saying.

He said the Taliban also nominated Adnan Rashid, a "proclaimed offender" who fled last year when militants stormed a prison in Bannu in the country's northwest.

Rashid was involved in masterminding an attack on former president Pervez Musharraf, and appeared in the same video where the spokesman made the offer for talks.

Appointing a murderer as peace negotiator casts doubts on the Taliban's seriousness about the talks, the minister said.

"Adnan Rashid is involved in attacks on security forces. He is an absconder, a jailbreaker. Does he qualify to hold peace talks with Nawaz Sharif and Fazl-ur-Rahman?" Malik said.

Malik also accused "hidden forces" of pulling the strings of the Taliban.

"Seems they are doing someone else's bidding, evident from their confused state of affairs," he said.

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