An anonymous government official has leaked a list of seven Taliban demands that were rejected by the government, resulting in a deadlock in the ongoing peace talks.

Local elders say the Pakistani Taliban are moving hundreds of fighters from Khyber tribal agency into the settled areas of Peshawar. The measure is being seen as a response to a plea by the interior minister that the next round of peace talks should be held in Peshawar to indicate increased trust. The government believes it is a positive sign.

Some of the key demands that the government negotiators said they could not accept are being reproduced below.

i) Remove Ali Azmat’s shower scene from Waar:

According to details, Taliban negotiators were angry with their portrayal in the popular new Pakistani movie, but were persuaded by the government’s team to watch the whole film before criticizing it. Arguments about individual scenes and the performance of actors continued hours after the film ended, followed by a general discussion on the causes of decline of Pakistani cinema, according to a press release issued to the media the next morning. Eventually, the Taliban agreed to let the film run, on the condition that the “agonizingly long” scene showing Ali Azmat in the shower be removed. “It is an insult to our aesthetics,” their statement said.

ii) Reduce ads during cricket games:

Weeks ago when the interior minister made a controversial offer to the Taliban to battle it out with the government in a cricket match, the Taliban responded by asking the government to first reduce the number of ads during cricket matches on television.

“One major reason that the Taliban consider cricket matches unacceptable is that there are too many ads,” a source close to militant leaders in Waziristan said. “First they used to eat up the first and the last bowl of every over, and now they even run them every time someone gets out. They don’t even let us watch the replay.”

iii) End internet censorship:

“If not for the Internet, we would never have known that there were so many desperate girls in our own small town in Waziristan waiting to reveal everything on webcam if we clicked on banner ads on various websites,” a local resident said.

“I want to exercise my fundamental right to watch that twerking girl accidentally set her apartment on fire,” another youth added.

It is under pressure from locals like these that the Taliban have asked the government to stop internet censorship.

iv) Unconditional release of President Mamnoon Hussain:

Sources privy to the negotiations say it took the government’s team several hours to persuade the Taliban that every citizen had a fundamental right to hold opinions and beliefs and express them, and that it was illegal and unethical to limit their freedom by confining their movement. “As soon as the Taliban realized the efficacy of these principles,” an insider said, “they immediately asked the government to unconditionally release the non-combatant civilian President Mamnoon Hussain.”

v) Correct English errors in English textbooks:

According to a survey, more than 60 percent of Pakistani children do not go to school. The poll also revealed that the other 40 percent now understand the importance of Jihad.

According to the survey, almost all the Taliban factions involved in blowing up schools in northwest Pakistan are led by militants who went to madrassas and schools that follow the curriculum prescribed by the government. Those who were interviewed said some of the material in English textbooks was written in such poor English that it was just absurd. Many of them were so upset that they declared Jihad and joined the Taliban.

“Their negotiations team said they would allow the government to remove material about Jihad because they understand it is under international pressure, but there was no excuse for such poor English in English textbooks,” a source said. “Perhaps America should start civilizing the world by first teaching them grammar and verb tenses.”

vi) Seriously we need to hang out more

The demand was made after a pleasant session of talks during which the two teams identified things that they agreed on. Government negotiators said they were too caught up with work and family, and that they expected to be free in a couple of months. “That’s what you said two months ago,” one militant leader was reported as saying.

The atmosphere worsened after the government’s team left before what the militants insisted would be the last joint.

vii) If the police or our wives call, tell them we were with you

After several such requests were turned down by the government’s negotiations team as well as the interior minister, the Taliban decided to suspend the talks. “Friendship is a two-way thing,” their spokesman said. “And trust is fundamental.”

The author has a degree in Poetics of Prophetic Discourse and works as a Senior Paradigm Officer.

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