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Pak Taliban leader confirms talks with govt

world Updated: Dec 11, 2011 02:31 IST
Taliban commander

A senior Taliban commander on Saturday confirmed peace talks with authorities in one district of Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, deputy head of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said the Taliban were negotiating with the help of local tribal elders in the northwestern district of Bajaur.

“These peace talks are continuing only in Bajaur but certainly we will start such peace talks in other areas after we reach a written agreement,” he said over telephone from an undisclosed location.

Previous peace deals between Pakistan and Islamist militants have rapidly unravelled, and were criticised by the United States and at home for allowing militants space to regroup before launching new waves of attacks.

Faqir Mohammad is the former head of Taliban militants in Bajaur and fought several times with Pakistani troops, who have been battling years to dislodge extremists.

In late November, two senior Taliban commanders confirmed peace talks with the Pakistani government in South Waziristan tribal district.

“We are satisfied with these talks, and want to initiate such talks in other areas,” Faqir Mohammad added. The commander refused to give details of the negotiations. “Talks are going in right direction, soon we will be able to sign a written agreement,” he said.

The report of peace talks comes after Pakistan’s fragile alliance with the US crashed to new lows on November 26, when Nato air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, in what the Pakistan military called a deliberate attack.