The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

September 16, 2013

Pakistani Taliban issue demands before peace talks

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban demanded Sunday that the government release militant prisoners and begin withdrawing troops from the group’s tribal sanctuary before they participate in peace talks, raising doubts about prospects for negotiations.

The demands came as a roadside bomb claimed by the Taliban killed a major general and two other soldiers as they were riding in a vehicle in the country’s northwest, the military said. The general was the top army commander in an area containing the Swat Valley, where the military carried out a major offensive against the Taliban in 2009.

The Taliban’s leadership council issued the peace talk demands while meeting to discuss the government’s offer to negotiate, said the group’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid.

Pakistan’s major political parties endorsed peace talks with the Taliban last week as the best way to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands. But it’s unclear what steps the government is willing to take to convince the militants to negotiate.

It’s also unclear what would be acceptable to the army, which has lost thousands of soldiers fighting the Taliban and is considered the country’s strongest institution.

“The Taliban have been deceived in the past in the name of peace, so the government will have to take some steps before the start of talks to assure the Taliban that the government is serious about the peace process,” Shahid told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The government must release Pakistani Taliban militant prisoners and show that it is withdrawing soldiers from the tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, Shahid said.

“If the government does not take these two steps, the peace process cannot go forward,” said Shahid.

Intelligence officials and militant commanders said the Taliban and the army exchanged a small number of prisoners last week, though the army denied the swap.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • August begins with low gasoline prices

    NEW YORK — The gasoline price roller coaster is running a strange course this summer....

    August 2, 2014

  • Israel pushes deeper into Gaza after soldier is abducted

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Backed by tank fire and airstrikes, Israeli forces pushed deep into southern Gaza on Friday, searching for an Israeli army officer believed to be captured by Hamas fighters during deadly clashes that shattered an ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Target taps outsider as CEO for shakeup

    NEW YORK — Target is bringing in an outsider as its CEO for the first time as the retailer fights to redefine itself to American shoppers....

    August 1, 2014

  • Israel and Hamas agree to 72-hour hiatus to negotiate peace deal

    JERUSALEM — Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning today, during which time there will be negotiations on a more durable truce in the 24-day-old Gaza war, the United States and United Nations announced ...

    August 1, 2014

  • India landslide kills 21

    NEW DELHI — Rescuers worked in rain today to dig through a remote village in western India where at least 21 people died as a landslide swept away scores of houses, possibly trapping many more people under debris, officials said....

    July 31, 2014

  • Israeli strike hits UN school

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli artillery shells tore through the walls of a U.N. school crowded with sleeping war refugees and back-to-back explosions rocked a market filled with shoppers Wednesday as Israel’s stepped up campaign against ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Busted water main dumps 20 million gallons of water into UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and adjacent garage

    LOS ANGELES — The rupture of a nearly century-old water main that ripped a 15-foot hole through Sunset Boulevard and turned a swath of the University of California, Los Angeles into a mucky mess points to the risks and expense many cities ...

    July 31, 2014

  • GOP-led House gives go-ahead for suit

    WASHINGTON — A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Just a day before ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014