Govt resumes Taliban talks despite deadly blast

ISLAMABAD: Government and Taliban negotiators resumed peace talks Wednesday and said they were ready to move to a decisive “second phase” even as a militant attack killed six military personnel.

The government opened negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last month in a bid to end their bloody seven-year insurgency, but the process broke down more than two weeks ago after militants killed 23 kidnapped soldiers.

The Taliban announced a month-long ceasefire at the weekend and the two sides met in the country’s northwest on Wednesday.

The resumption came despite a major attack in Islamabad on Monday claimed by a splinter group that killed 11 people and a roadside bomb killing six paramilitary troops on Wednesday.

A joint statement read out after the meeting in Akora Khattak, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Peshawar, the main city of northwest Pakistan, said the talks had entered a “crucial stage”.

Lead government negotiator Irfan Siddiqui told reporters they had made “satisfactory” progress.

“We are now launching the second phase of the dialogue after completion of the first one, which focused on mutual consultations,” he said.

“The second phase will be of decision-making and we have to make important and far-reaching decisions.”

Maulana Sami-ul-Haq urged the government not to let negotiations be derailed by attacks, saying the “enemy will leave no stone unturned to prevent this process from reaching logical conclusion.”

Source: AFP