Pakistani Taliban begin peace talks with government

Maulana Sami ul-Haq (C), one of the Taliban negotiators, speaks during a news conference with his team members Ibrahim Khan (L) and Maulana Abdul Aziz (R) in Islamabad, Feb. 4, 2014.
A long-awaited first round of peace talks between the Pakistani government and Taliban has begun in Islamabad after numerous delays and growing doubt over the chance of their success, sources said.
Talks have begun between Pakistani government negotiators and representatives of the Pakistani Taliban, in an attempt to end a bloody insurgency.
Reports say the first round of talks began Thursday at an undisclosed location in Islamabad, after a two-day delay when government officials failed to show up for a meeting.
Negotiators were expected to chart a plan for the peace talks during the initial meeting.
The Taliban insurgency has taken thousands of lives, as Taliban members battled for establishment of an independent, Islamic-controlled state.
The Pakistani Taliban continues to insist on hard line sharia law while the government has stressed the need to provide democratic freedoms.
Critics have accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif\’s government of taking a weak stand against the Taliban in the past.
Source: VOA and agencies
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