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Victims of Taliban not mollified by peace talks

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - To the victims of Taliban violence, the very idea of negotiating with people responsible for so much human pain is abhorrent. Their voices have gone largely unheard in Pakistan. The nation has long been conflicted about whether the Taliban are enemies, bent on destroying the state or fellow Muslims who should be welcomed back after years of dissent.

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.

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