ISLAMABAD - The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Thursday said it was still standing by its stance on the debate challenge given to the Sunni Ittehad Council. “But the SIC is looking for excuses to escape from the challenge,” it said.

In a statement, TTP Mohmand Agency chapter chief Umar Khalid Khurasani said the SIC leaders were looking for a way of escape by saying that they want a direct debate instead of video link.

He said the TTP representatives in Karachi and Lahore would not be able to make direct debate with the SIC due to its ongoing conflict with the security forces. The Taliban leader said they would not allow the SIC to escape from the debate and answer all their questions.

Khurasani said being in the state of war Taliban need to be armed with weapons. He clarified that the Taliban were not in a state of war with the whole nation but battling against the ‘secular system and its patrons’.

He said if the SIC was not ready to come to FATA for debate then Taliban would also not come to city areas. He said the debate should either be held outside the country or Taliban be given guarantee of complete security for holding the debate in Pakistan.

He said the judges suggested by the SIC were not acceptable. He said the Ulema of Ittehad Tanzeemat Madaris should be the judges for the debate. He said the security guarantee should be given by those who have writ in the areas of debate.

Khurasani said Taliban were ready to give written guarantee but the SIC would also have to give guarantee that in case of losing, the SIC would side with Taliban in their struggle.

He said the list of participants of the debate will be issued after settlement of these matters.

It merits mentioning here that the SIC had accepted the challenge of debate offered by Taliban. The TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid on Monday had challenged those Ulema for a debate who were criticising Taliban. The spokesman pledged they would stop their activities in Pakistan if they failed in the debate.

Accepting the challenge, SIC chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza said that he was ready for debate with Taliban on any channel.

The SIC accused Taliban of indulging in armed rebellion against the Islamic state and urged them to accept the country’s constitution. The statement further said that Taliban’s method of action was against the principles of Islamic Jihad.

However, the SIC had stated that the debate should be held directly, instead of a video link and the participants should be unarmed.