ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s much-awaited talks with the Taliban got off to a shambolic start on Tuesday after government negotiators failed to turn up at an agreed time following days of confusion over who should represent the insurgents.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif surprised his country last week when he announced he would give peace talks another chance just as speculation intensified that his government was preparing for a military offensive against Pakistani Taliban strongholds.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Residents of Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun region of North Waziristan accused government troops on Monday of killing dozens of civilians during a military operation against Taliban insurgents.
The operation started just after a December 18 suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint in North Waziristan, a stronghold for al Qaeda-linked Taliban militants on Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan ruled out military action against the Taliban on Tuesday and promised to persuade insurgents to lay down their weapons through peace negotiations.
Mullah Fazlullah, the Pakistani Taliban’s new hardline leader, has rejected outright the idea of peace talks and vowed to step up attacks as part of his campaign to topple the central government and establish Islamist rule in Pakistan.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Family members and lawyers representing a group of Pakistani men released from a U.S. military prison but held by Pakistani authorities urged the government on Monday to free them or explain why they are still being kept behind bars.
The six men were arrested by U.S. authorities in neighboring Afghanistan on suspicion of links to the Taliban but they were released on November 16 from the high-security Bagram prison there without charge.
KABUL (Reuters) – President Hamid Karzai’s stubborn refusal to sign a pact that would keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 is a high-risk gamble that Washington will give in to his demands, one that has left him isolated as the clock runs down on his presidency.
Diplomats said he may have over-played his hand, raising the risk of a complete U.S. withdrawal from the insurgency-plagued country where Western troops have fought Taliban militants for the past 12 years. It also risks a backlash at home by critics who believe he is playing a dangerous game with the country’s future security.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The killing of one of Pakistan’s most wanted Islamic militants in a U.S. drone strike has exposed centuries-old rivalries within the group he led, the Pakistani Taliban, making the insurgency ever more unpredictable and probably more violent.
Hakimullah Mehsud’s death this month has set off a power struggle within the outfit’s ranks, which could further unnerve a region already on tenterhooks with most U.S.-led troops pulling out of neighboring Afghanistan in 2014.
BANI GALA, Pakistan (Reuters) – Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan accused the United States on Friday of deliberately destroying any chance of meaningful peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban by killing the insurgency’s leader in a drone strike a week ago.
The Taliban have since rejected talks with the government and threatened a wave of revenge attacks for the death of their chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, on November 1.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund said on Friday it was broadly satisfied with Pakistan’s economic progress after stepping in to save the country from a possible default earlier this year.
The IMF has agreed to loan Pakistan $6.7 billion over three years as part of the programme, but its condition of quarterly reviews means the cash is not guaranteed.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan is committed to building a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline from neighbouring Iran but the threat of international sanctions makes the task difficult, the South Asian nation’s petroleum minister said on Friday.
The comments follow remarks last month by Iran’s oil minister that the country would probably abandon the contract, prompting speculation that the two sides had decided to ditch the project altogether.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Even as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani was one of the most eloquent critics of Pakistan’s military, the nuclear-armed country’s most powerful institution.
Haqqani, once derided at home as Washington’s ambassador to Pakistan for his pro-Western views, has taken a step further, accusing the government of directly supporting militant groups in his latest book “Magnificent Delusions”.