Pakistani Taliban committee member rejects peace talks

Islamabad, Feb 7: A member of the Taliban committee Maulana Abdul Aziz Friday said he would not be part of the peace talks till the government assures enforcement of Sharia or ‘Islamic law’.

Aziz, who rose to prominence during the 2007 military operation at Lal Masjid in Islamabad, said Pakistan’s constitution should be replaced with the teachings of the Quran and the Holy Prophet.

“That should be the law in Pakistan and until the committee brings this point on the agenda I won’t be part of negotiations,” Aziz said in a press conference here.

The peace talks between a four-member government committee and a three-man Taliban team formally kicked off Thursday. Both the panels have been blaming each other for the delay in commencement of the dialogue which was earlier scheduled for Tuesday.

The first round of talks ended with both sides charting a roadmap for future negotiations, with the government team proposing that the talk be pursued within the framework of the constitution of Pakistan, reported the Dawn online.

Aziz, who is chief cleric of Lal Masjid, also urged the government to remove the condition of holding talks under the constitution.

“There would be no problems if our constitution were the Quran and Sunnah. But the Taliban say they do not recognise the prevailing constitution,” Aziz said.

“The people should not be misled into believing that our constitution is Islamic.”

He said he would remain part of the Taliban committee led by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, unless told otherwise, but would not come to the negotiating table.

The government committee had sought some clarifications about the powers of the Taliban team which led to confusion and the talks got delayed.