The Pakistani Taliban told the government there was no chance of peace in the country unless Pakistan changed its political and legal system and officially embraced Islamic law.
The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants to find a negotiated settlement to years of fighting with the militants but talks broke down this month after a string of attacks.
In a rare face-to-face meeting with journalists on Friday in an undisclosed location in Waziristan, a lawless region on the Afghan border, main Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said there was still hope negotiations might resume.
“Despite recent bombings in North Waziristan and killing of our 74 men by the security forces during the peace talks, we are still serious about the talks,” he said, wearing an AK-47 bandolier across his chest.
“If talks are to be held it would be only under sharia (Islamic law). We have made this clear to the government committee. We are fighting for the enforcement of sharia and we are holding talks for the same purpose.”
Pakistan is a conservative Muslim country and although its constitution is rooted in Islamic traditions, the legal system is based on English common law and the people are guaranteed their fundamental freedoms of speech and religion.
Sharif came to power last year on promises to persuade the Taliban to stop fighting, effectively proposing to legalise the banned group as a political entity. He previously tried to introduce sharia in the late 1990s just before he was toppled in a military coup. – Reuters