Senior commanders in the Pakistani Taliban on Monday claimed to be holding initial peace talks with the government that could end a wave of bombings that has killed thousands of people.
Previous peace deals between Pakistan and Islamist militants have rapidly unravelled, and were criticised by the US and at home for allowing militants space to regroup before launching new waves of attacks.
It is also unclear whether the Taliban are united enough to cement a lasting agreement across disparate parts of the northwest where they hold sway, and whether any deal would allow militants more room to operate in Afghanistan."Peace talks are continuing with the government and army. We have had two rounds of such talks," one senior Taliban commander said over telephone from an undisclosed location. "A 10-member committee of the Taliban is negotiating. I am a member of that committee," he added. No one from the Pakistan military or government was available to comment.
Significantly, there has been no major Taliban attack in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 46 people, targeting an anti-Taliban militia at a funeral in September. The Pakistani Taliban have released five officials from ISI who were kidnapped in Baluchistan, the commander said.
Haqqani denies links to secret memorandum
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has stuck to his stance that he had nothing to do with the controversial secret memorandum sent to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen to prevent a possible military coup, according to a media report.
Haqqani conveyed his position to President Asif Ali Zardari during two informal meetings held at the presidency on Sunday, the Dawn quoted sources. Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said “no official meeting” was slotted, as yesterday was a Sunday.