Pakistan Taliban spokesman outlines conditions for ceasefire
By Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Jibran Ahmad
ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The Pakistani Taliban have outlined conditions for a ceasefire, including the adoption of Islamic law and a break with the United States, a spokesman said Thursday, an offer dismissed out of hand by the interior minister.
The Taliban, in a letter sent to the Pakistan daily The News, also demanded that Pakistan stop its involvement in the war pitting Afghan insurgents against the Kabul government and refocus on a war of "revenge" against India.
The letter from Taliban spokesman Amir Muawiya comes as the focus in Afghanistan shifts from a military push by NATO troops to potential peace talks, and amid speculation of a rift between top Pakistan Taliban leaders.
Military officials told Reuters last month that Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud had lost operational command to his deputy, Wali ur-Rehman, considered to be more open to reconciliation with the Pakistani government. The Taliban deny Mehsud has lost command.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they have launched devastating attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.
The ceasefire conditions, confirmed by spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan in a phone call to Reuters, said Pakistan should rewrite its laws and constitution according to Islamic law.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik rejected any offer of a ceasefire unless it came from the Pakistan Taliban leader.
"I reject all these offers, and any future claims, of Ihsanullah Ihsan, unless and until Hakeemullah Mehsud owns them himself," Malik said. Continued...