World

Pakistan resumes talks with Taliban

6 soldiers die as negotiators meet

PARACHINAR, Pakistan — The Pakistani government pushed forward with Taliban peace negotiations on Wednesday, despite recent militant attacks that include a roadside bomb in the country’s northwest that killed six soldiers.

Negotiators representing both the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, as the Pakistani Taliban is formally called, met for the first time in three weeks to find a way to end an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives. The government suspended the talks after a faction of the Pakistani Taliban killed 23 troops it had been holding captive.

The peace talks promoted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have proceeded in fits and starts since Sharif took office last year. In January both sides named negotiators who met twice before the talks were suspended. The process appeared to gain new life during the weekend when the Pakistani Taliban declared a one-month ceasefire and the government responded by saying it would halt airstrikes against militant hideouts in the tribal areas.

Advertisement

The future of the negotiating process was then called into question Monday when militants killed 11 people in an attack on a judicial compound in the heart of the city. The killing of eight troops this week, including six just hours before the negotiators met Wednesday, have also strained the process.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Rahimullah Yousafzai, one of the negotiators representing the Pakistani government, said that the negotiators had decided to push forward with the process because the Pakistani Taliban had said they were not responsible for the recent attacks.

‘‘In this situation, we opted to continue the talks, and we hope the Taliban will condemn these attacks and trace those who are behind it,’’ Yousafzai said.

Negotiators representing the government and the Taliban met Wednesday at a seminary run by Maulana Samiul Haq, one of the Taliban’s negotiators, in the northwestern city of Akora Khattak.

Haq told reporters that the Taliban panel was seeking a meeting with the prime minister. He praised the Taliban for announcing the ceasefire and said he asked the militants to track down whoever was responsible for recent violence.

Advertisement

The head of the committee representing the government, Irfan Sadiqui, said they had discussed various options for the negotiating process.