Rehman Malik asks TTP to declare ceasefire for serious talks

  • Says PPP was ready to offer governorship to Brahamdagh Bugti to ease situation in Balochistan
  • Says no one arrested in Karachi by the ISI in connection with Dr Imran’s murder
  • Says peace talks are a bad idea, TTP is not serious in intention

Former interior minister and senior PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik has called on Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to declare a ceasefire to prove its sincere intent for peace talks.

In a TV interview, Malik said the government should remove the TTP from the list of banned outfits if Taliban announce the ceasefire and enter into serious negotiations.

“Our party fully supports the government’s initiative for negotiations with the Taliban despite serious questions about their intentions,” he said, “The government of Nawaz Sharif is sincere in talks but the seriousness of the other side remains to be seen.”

Those whom I call Zaliman are not sincere at all according to my personal experience, he asserted.

He recalled that the PPP regime too was faced with terrorism as the TTP had reached Malakand and Haripur. “Our government took a bold step deciding to launch an operation,” he said.

“We are not against negotiations. But in response to the offer for talks, Taliban have set up a committee of people who are PML-N’s political rivals including Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

“Taliban are playing games with Pakistan. All of us know that Mulla Fazlullah is sitting in Afghanistan and he will return. The TTP has divided the Parliament into anti-Taliban and pro-Taliban, he said.

“Mullah Fazlullah is being financed by Afghan intelligence. Afghanistan’s tourism minister had handed over bags of money to Baitullah Mehsud. Fazlullah’s presence in Afghanistan is a cause of concern,” he continued.

Afghanistan is not sincere with Pakistan, he pointed out. “I had raised the issue of Mullah Fazlullah with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who avoided the question diplomatically,” he said.

“The TTP is very weak now. Their power was mainly based on Mehsuds. Fazlullah was being backed by the Punjabi Taliban,” he revealed.

The peace talks have now become a joke. Taliban won’t let the talks succeed due to their ill-intentions, he said.

“There was some hope for talks if the TTP had selected representatives of their own. They are not serious. Taliban’s masters will never allow them to end the conflict,” Malik said.

Responding to a question, Malik said that Fazlur Rehman can play a major role in peace talks due to his influence and contacts.

About his secret meeting with the TTP, he disclosed that he had asked Taliban to adhere to Pakistan’s flag and the Constitution, but their insistence was on the implementation of Sharia.

The former interior minister suggested that the government should launch a crackdown on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in Jhang, parts of South Punjab, Karachi before moving to North Waziristan. He pointed out that LeJ’s headquarter was in Jhang.

He claimed that Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) terrorists are being trained in Afghanistan province of Kandhar.

He also disclosed that the PPP government was ready to offer governorship of Balochsitan to Brahamdagh Bugti to defuse the situation in the province.

“Brahamdagh Bugti’s men had abducted American national John Saloki and that it was shared with the then US ambassador Anne W Patterson. We intercepted a call from Brahamdagh Bugti. The call was made from Karzai’s palace. I later met some leaders of tribes who played their role to release John Saloki.”

To a question, he said that a common Balochis can’t have Kalashinkovs or other weapons, someone is definitely financing them. “By destabilising Pakistan, if somebody thinks that there will be peace in the world, he is badly mistaken,” he warned.

The PPP senator denied that two persons were arrested at Karachi airport in connection with the murder of MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq. As an interior minister, when I noticed media report about the arrest, I asked the interior secretary to write a letter to the ISI, which denied making any arrests.

“We also checked the list of passengers. There was neither any entry of those two men in Pakistan nor the British government wrote any letter,” he concluded.