Ousted deputy leader of Pakistan Taliban favours talks with govt

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:00pm IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A deputy leader of the Pakistan Taliban, reportedly ousted at the weekend by a militant council, still favours peace talks with the Pakistani government, he told Reuters on Tuesday.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, who commands militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistan Taliban, in the tribal region of Bajaur near the Afghan border, has reportedly been in talks with the government in Islamabad over a peace deal.

The TTP, allied with the Afghan Taliban movement fighting U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, is entrenched in the unruly areas along the porous frontier. It has pledged to overthrow the Pakistan government after the military started operations against the militant groups.

Past peace pacts with the TTP have failed to bring stability, and merely gave the umbrella group time and space to consolidate, launch attacks and impose their austere version of Islam on segments of the population.

The TTP leadership is split over new talks with the Pakistan government, with some hardliners rejecting them.

Mohammad said, however, he has never disobeyed the council.

"Whenever I've held talks with the government of Pakistan, I've held them with the permission and advice of the central leadership of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan," Mohammad said from an undisclosed location.

"When the Taliban in Afghanistan can talk to America, then why can't we talk to the government of Pakistan?"

Pakistan last month urged leaders of the Afghan Taliban movement to enter direct peace negotiations with Kabul, a possible sign that Islamabad is stepping up support for reconciliation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

A council which reportedly included TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, ousted Mohammad, but he said he had "no information on this council, its members, or where its meeting was held".

"Except for Ehsanullah Ehsan, who contacted the media, no important Taliban leader has contacted me." Ehsanullah is the spokesman for the TTP and announced the demotion.

Pakistan and the TTP have been in stuttering peace talks for months, with Mohammad one of the most vocal proponents of negotiations. In December, he said he hoped to sign a peace deal in Bajaur that would be a model for the rest of the tribal areas.

TTP leader Mehsud, who is close to al Qaeda, vehemently opposes the talks.

Any division within the TTP could hinder the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda's struggle in Afghanistan against the United States and its allies, making it more difficult to recruit young fighters and disrupting safe havens in Pakistan used by the Afghan militants.

It could also make the Pakistan Army's chore of clearing out the militant-infested regions easier if it can exploit the divisions.

The TTP has long struggled with its choice of targets. Some factions are at war with the Pakistan state while others concentrate on the fight against the United States and its allies in Afghanistan.

There has been a noticeable decrease in militant attacks in Pakistan in recent months, but there continue to be random acts of violence across the country.

Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban commanders are asking the TTP to provide more men for the fight in Afghanistan and are looking to smooth over the dispute within the TTP.

(Writing by Chris Allbritton; Editing by Ed Lane and Maria Golovnina)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS EXCLUSIVE

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Drug Scarcity

Drug Scarcity

Exclusive - India set to run out of critical free drug for HIV/AIDS programme.  Full Article 

Taliban Attacks

Taliban Attacks

Taliban bombs hit Afghan army vehicles, killing at least seven.  Full Article 

Fighting IS

Fighting IS

Australian aircraft to support U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq - PM.  Full Article | Related Story 

Monsoon Ends

Monsoon Ends

India's 2014 monsoon ends with double-digit rain deficit   Full Article 

Microsoft OS

Microsoft OS

Microsoft names next operating system 'Windows 10'  Full Article 

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong protests approach potential National Day flashpoint.  Full Article 

Ebola in U.S.

Ebola in U.S.

Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S  Full Article 

Asian Games 2014

Asian Games 2014

Doping takes spotlight from teenage champs at Asian Games  Full Article 

U.S.-Afghan Pact

U.S.-Afghan Pact

U.S. signs pact to keep troops in Afghanistan past 2014  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage