Islamabad: In a move that could affect ongoing peace talks with the government, the Pakistani Taliban has said it wants commander Mullah Fazlullah to lead the country.
"In Pakistan, Mullah Fazlullah is leading us and he has all the qualities to lead the Pakistani nation," said Shahidullah Shahid, spokesman of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Shahid further said in an interview with Newsweek Pakistan that the militants, who are fighting for Shariah (Islamic law) in Pakistan, consider Afghan Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar as their "Amir-ul-Momineen" (leader of the faithful).
The TTP is engaged in peace talks with the government and negotiators from both sides met for the first time last week
to draw up a roadmap for dialogue.
But Shahid said the TTP is at war with the government for two reasons - its "friendship" with the US and the continuation of the "un-Islamic democratic system".
"We want the establishment of Shariah in Pakistan; this was the reason that Pakistan was created," he claimed.
Shahid said his group is ready for a ceasefire but the government should announce it first. He also described the government's assertion that peace talks be conducted within the framework of the Constitution as a "precondition".
Asked about 15 demands the TTP has reportedly made for talks with the government, he said, "We do not disagree with the demands being attributed to us in the media. However, we have issued no such information to the media."
The Taliban's position has been communicated to the government through a committee led by radical cleric Samiul Haq, he said.
The TTP wants the peace process to succeed even though previous talks failed because of the government's "non-seriousness and foreign pressure", he claimed.
"If these talks fail, the government will obviously try to launch a military operation. But we have been tested before and passed such phases with success dozens of times," he said.
Asked about the TTP's defeat at the hands of the Pakistani Army in Swat Valley, Shahid claimed the militants were not defeated as they had not lost their capability to fight for Shariah.
Mullah Fazlullah, the current head of the TTP, hails from Swat. He fled from the region to Afghanistan when the military operation was launched in 2009 to flush out militants.
Updated Date: Feb 11, 2014 18:20:55 IST