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Pakistan Army chief supports dialogue with Taliban

AFP-JIJI

Pakistan’s powerful army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, on Saturday said the army supports the government’s policy of dialogue with the Taliban to end the insurgency wracking the country.

Last month the main Pakistani political parties backed a government proposal to seek negotiations with the militants, who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the state since 2007.

But the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction, a loose coalition of militant groups led by Hakimullah Mehsud since 2009, responded with a list of preconditions.

These included a government ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghan border where the militants have hideouts.

“The national leadership has decided to give dialogue a chance to deal with the issue of terrorism and the Pakistan Army fully supports this process,” Ka- yani said while addressing a passing-out parade of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad, about 110 km north of the capital, Islamabad. “The nation and the political leadership have to determine the parameters for holding such a dialogue. . . . This process should bring unity among the nation instead of leading to a division.”