Victims of Taliban not mollified by peace talks
Maimed, innocent civilians not interested in reconciliation with terrorist organization
The Pakistan Taliban is directly responsible for the deaths of countless innocent civilians who just happened to get in the way of their indiscriminate terrorist attacks. Now, the Pakistani government and the Taliban forces in northwestern tribal areas have expressed an interest in peace talks. The victims of Taliban violence are not heartened or mollified with the idea of reconciling with a group for the death and dismemberment of an estimated 30,000 civilians and 4,000 soldiers have died in terrorist attacks in Pakistan since Sept. 11, 2001.
The biggest question, which will determine if the nation and indeed the world will be able to go forward and heal, is whether the Taliban will have to pay any price for the people they are believed to have killed and wounded.
The push for peace talks gained momentum last December when the leader of the Pakistani Taliban offered to negotiate. The Pakistani government responded positively, and even hinted that the militants would not need to lay down their weapons before talks could begin.
Many are skeptical that the Taliban truly desires peace. They point to past agreements with the Taliban that fell apart after giving militants time to regroup. Others say negotiations are the only option since numerous military operations against the Taliban have failed.
The biggest question, which will determine if the nation and indeed the world will be able to go forward and heal, is whether the Taliban will have to pay any price for the people they are believed to have killed and wounded. The government hasn't said whether it would offer the Taliban amnesty for past offenses.
One 14-year-old boy, who spoke to the Associated Press, lost his right leg below the knee in a car bombing. His mind is not on forgiveness. "Hang them alive," the boy says. "Slice the flesh off their bodies and cut them into pieces. That's what they have been doing to us."
A fellow classmate, also injured in the attack, does not bear olive branches. "If I find them, I will throw them in a burning clay oven," he said.
There have been few concrete developments thus far, and it's unclear whether Pakistan's powerful military supports negotiations.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Taliban, peace talks, Pakistan, victims, death, dismemberment
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