The group is led by Hakimullah Mahsud, a Pashtun militant who took over after a U.S. drone strike killed chieftain Baitullah Mahsud two years ago. Mahsud's second in command, Wali ur-Rehman, told a Pakistani newspaper last month that the group would want an Arab country to mediate before agreeing to enter talks.
Proponents of negotiations say fighting the militants with military blitzes hasn't stemmed suicide bombings, which since 2001 have killed at least 4,600 people and injured 10,000 in Pakistan.
"What's needed is dialogue," Imran Khan, a former Pakistani cricket star turned politician, told reporters after the Sept. 29 conference. "There are two approaches: military and political. And in my opinion and the opinion of most others [at the conference], a military approach won't solve the problem."
Others in Pakistani society aren't so sure. An Oct. 5 editorial in the Express Tribune newspaper warned that the movement toward talks with the Taliban "placed the [Pakistani Taliban] on a platform of strength in Pakistan from where, if the state negotiates, it would be tantamount to abject surrender."
Pakistanis who oppose talking with the Taliban can take encouragement in the knowledge that the military may not support the idea, either. Though the military has publicly said it would abide by the civilian government's decisions, it has also moved aggressively against the most recent Pakistani Taliban threat: cross-border attacks by militants using the eastern Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan as sanctuary.
Those attacks have killed more than 100 members of Pakistan's security forces this year. Pakistani military leaders have blamed U.S., NATO and Afghan forces for not uprooting Pakistani Taliban militants from their havens in eastern Afghanistan.
"The Pakistani Taliban's goals are well known," Almeida said. "I can't see the military having much of an appetite to cut a deal. But never say never."