Pakistan Taliban name Imran Khan for talks


Pakistan’s Taliban have named politician and ex-cricketer Imran Khan as a member of a five-man team to enter into peace talks with the government, the BBC reports. Mr Khan’s party strongly favours negotiations, but a statement said that he would probably prefer to assist the peace process in another role. PM Nawaz Sharif returned to power last May promising talks with the Taliban. Deadly attacks have continued and Mr Sharif said this week he was giving peace a last chance by naming a team. The Taliban said it would consider the offer of talks and has now responded. The team named by the Taliban on Saturday comprises Mr Khan, the chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, and three top religious party leaders – Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, Mufti Kifayatullah and Prof Ibrahim Khan. Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP said: “The committee members will hold talks with their interlocutors in the government’s team on our behalf and put forth our point of view.” Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party has strongly backed talks. A statement said he was unlikely to take the role but stood ready to help the peace process.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Sunday that the Taliban’s announcement of its team was positive. “It is a matter of great satisfaction that both sides have announced their negotiating teams after many years and this reflects that both sides want to make peace through negotiations and dialogue,” Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying. Mr Sharif’s team comprises veteran journalists Rahimullah Yusufzai and Irfan Siddiqui, former ambassador Rustam Shah Mohmand and a retired major in the ISI intelligence service, Amir Shah. No timeframe has been set for the talks. Scores of people have been killed this month alone, many of them soldiers, as the militants attacked military and civilian targets across the country.
Three killed in blast
Officials in northwestern Pakistan said a bomb blast in a movie theater has killed at least three people, the Voice of America News reports. Authorities said 30 people were wounded in the explosion Sunday in Peshawar. Police officials said the attacker was apparently sitting in the audience before hurling hand grenades.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Peshawar is the capital of the Khyber Paktunkhwa province, which has witnessed numerous gun and bomb attacks in recent years.

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