Pakistan reports talks with Taliban

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister said Thursday that talks with the domestic arm of the Taliban have started, but he gave no details about who was taking part or what was on the agenda.

Nawaz Sharif’s comments came at a meeting in London with the British deputy prime minister and were released in a statement by the Pakistani High Commission there.

‘‘The prime minister informed [the deputy prime minister] that the dialogue with the Taliban has started. He said that he hoped and prayed the dialogue works within the constitutional framework of Pakistan,’’ the statement read.


Sharif was elected this year in part by promising to negotiate with militants in the country’s northwest who have killed thousands of civilians.

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Many are frustrated that years of Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas, where militants have safe havens, have failed to end the violence. They see negotiations as a necessary step.

Representatives of Pakistan’s major political parties backed Sharif’s plan for talks in September. His government has been under pressure to show progress ever since.

But the militants have shown little appetite for talks. They have demanded that Pakistan stop supporting the US-led war in Afghanistan, and that the Pakistani army withdraws troops from the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan.

They have also demanded an end to US drone strikes in the tribal areas. Drones are a particular touchy subject for many Pakistanis, who view them as an infringement on their sovereignty.


The leader of one of the country’s main opposition parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, threatened Thursday to cut off NATO supplies moving through Pakistan if the United States launches any drone strikes during the talks.

The Pakistani Taliban has similar loyalties as the Afghan Taliban but a separate structure with separate leadership.

Associated Press