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PAKISTANI TALIBAN IN TALKS WITH THE GOVERNEMMENT

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The Pakistan Taliban is in peace talks with the country’s government, the group’s deputy commander has said on Saturday 12/10/2011 ( see also – Swat Truce II ).

Maulana Faqir Mohammad said the focus was on the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan, and that if successful, talks could be extended to other areas (see alsothe 02/2009 – Bajaur-offer).

He said 145 Taliban prisoners had been freed as a goodwill gesture and the authorities wanted a ceasefire. It is the first time a top Taliban commander has confirmed negotiations. There has been no government comment.

“Our talks are going in the right direction,” Reuters news agency quotes Maulana Faqir Mohammad as saying.

The recent decade in Pakistan witnessed several rounds of “peace talks”, “cease fire” agreements or “understanding” between various Islamic insurgency groups, generally representing tribal groups and the Pakistani authorities. But in the past such negotiations have backfired allowing the militants time to re-group.

There are also doubts about whether or not any possible peace treaty would be observed by all of the factions in the Pakistan Taliban, which is an increasingly fractured alliance.

In October, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said talks would only be held if the group disarmed. But since then relation with the USA were sharply declined (see – Salala 11.26.11).

The Pakistani army has conducted a series of offensives against strongholds of the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taleban, along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

But it has failed to curtail the activities of the group, which has ties to Al Qaeda. Militants in Pakistan have carried out a series of devastating suicide bombings and other attacks across the country since 2007 in an attempt to overthrow the US-backed government..

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