Pakistan Taliban chief says group will negotiate, but not disarm

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:02pm IST

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud (C) sits with other millitants in South Waziristan October 4, 2009 in this video grab taken from footage released October 5, 2009. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Files

Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud (C) sits with other millitants in South Waziristan October 4, 2009 in this video grab taken from footage released October 5, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Reuters TV/Files

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - The head of Pakistan's Taliban said his militia is willing to negotiate with the government but not disarm, a message delivered in a video given to Reuters on Friday.

The release of the 40-minute video follows three high-profile Taliban attacks in the northern city of Peshawar this month: an attack by multiple suicide bombers on the airport, the killing of a senior politician and eight others in a bombing and the kidnap of 22 paramilitary forces on Thursday.

The attacks underline the Taliban's ability to strike high-profile, well-protected targets even as the amount of territory it controls has shrunk and its leaders are picked off by U.S. drones.

"We believe in dialogue but it should not be frivolous," Hakimullah Mehsud said. "Asking us to lay down arms is a joke."

In the video, Mehsud sits cradling a rifle next to his deputy, Wali ur-Rehman. Military officials say there has been a split between the two men but Mehsud said that was propaganda.

"Wali ur-Rehman is sitting with me here and we will be together until death," said Mehsud, pointing at his companion.

Pakistani officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

The Taliban said in a letter released Thursday that they wanted Pakistan to rewite its laws and constitution to conform with Islamic law, break its alliance with the United States and stop interfering in the war in Afghanistan and focus on India instead.

Mehsud referred to the killing of the senior politician in his speech and said the political party, the largely Pashtun Awami National Party, would continue to be a target along with other politicians.

"We are against the democratic system because it is un-Islamic," Mehsud said. "Our war isn't against any party. It is against the non-Islamic system and anyone who supports it."

Pakistan is due to hold elections next spring. The current government, which came to power five years ago, struck an uneasy deal with the Taliban in 2009 that allowed the militia to control Swat valley, less than 100 km (60 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

A few months later, the military launched an operation that pushed the militants back. The U.S. military also intensified its use of drone strikes.

Now the Taliban control far less territory and the frequency and deadliness of their bombings has declined dramatically.

The Taliban's key stronghold is in North Waziristan, one of the tribal areas along the Afghan border and the site of most of the hundreds of drone strikes by the United States.

Mehsud said in his interview that although he was open to dialogue, the Pakistani government was to blame for the violence because it broke previous, unspecified deals.

"In the past, it is the Pakistani government that broke peace agreements," he said. "A slave of the U.S. can't make independent agreements; it breaks agreements according to U.S. dictat."

Mehsud said that the Pakistan Taliban would follow the lead of the Afghan Taliban when it came to forming policy after most NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

"We are Afghan Taliban and Afghan Taliban are us," he said. "We are with them and al Qaida. We are even willing to get our heads cut off for al Qaida."

(Writing By Katharine Houreld; Editing by Nick Macfie)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Paucity of Rains

Patchy Rain

Met office rules out surplus monsoon in 2014   Full Article 

Boat Tragedy

Boat Tragedy

Boy and girl on Korean ferry tied life jackets together before they drowned.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Russia starts drill near border.  Full Article 

Big Buyback

Big Buyback

Apple expands buybacks by $30 billion.  Full Article 

Put A Ring On It

Put A Ring On It

Actress Jodie Foster marries girlfriend Alexandra Hedison.  Full Article 

Times Top List

Time 100

Janet Yellen, Miley Cyrus odd bedfellows in Time's list of 100 most influential.  Full Article 

Champions League

Champions League

Benzema strike gives Real Madrid edge over holders Bayern Munich.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage