PESHAWAR - Humbled by the reprisal strikes on their dens in Fata by the security forces, the mainstream Taliban Friday said they were ‘ready for talks’ and urged the government to take the ‘lead on a ceasefire’.

Speaking to journalists at an undisclosed location, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said they were ready for talks despite the fact that the recent bombardment in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency was proof of the government’s ‘insincerity’.

“The war has been started by the government and it should also take the lead on a ceasefire,” said Shahidullah, who was accompanied by TTP political shura member Azam Tariq. He said the TTP was serious about the dialogue, adding that the negotiators representing it were more independent than those representing the govet.

The TTP spokesman said that Taliban were aiming to resolve issues through talks whereas the government was more focused on establishing its writ and the supremacy of the constitution. The government through dialogue wanted Taliban to accept the constitution of Pakistan, which, he claimed, did not have a single element reflecting Islamic injunctions. The Quran and Sunnah was a complete constitution, he added.

The government has started the war when they should have initiated a ceasefire, Shahidullah said. “We have been fighting in defence for ten years... The government should stop this root-out operation now.” He said that the Taliban still wish to engage in a peace dialogue to solve the country’s problems. “We were ready to talk before and are ready now.”

Later, Taliban nominated committee member Professor Ibrahim also said on Friday that the constitution of Pakistan is not un-Islamic and religious scholars had endorsed and signed it. Talking to newsmen here, the Jamat-i-Islami leader said that their religious elders had drafted, developed and signed the constitution, adding that they all had taken oath under the same.

Criticizing the government, Ibrahim said that it accepted the constitution but it did not implement it in the real sense. He said that real implementation of the constitution was the only way to resolve lingering issue of the country, and that Taliban would also accept this constitution once it is implemented in letter and spirit. Over peace talks, Professor Ibrahim said he would have no objection if the government wanted to hold negotiations directly with the Taliban leadership.

The Taliban’s statements come after the government decided to pull the plug on the peace talks with the Taliban as the prime minister and the military leadership decided that “proceeding with the peace talks amid the bombings and slaughter of soldiers would be injustice to terror victims.”

Following a wave of terrorist attacks on security forces, it has been decided that talks will only be held when blood stops spilling, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar quoted the premier as saying. As many as 50 suspected insurgents were killed and several others injured as military jets and gunships bombed their hideouts in the North Waziristan and Khyber agencies, military sources said on Thursday.