Pak starts peace talks with Tehrik-e-Taliban: Report
NATO has decided to pull out troops from Afghanistan from this year.
Islamabad: Pakistan government has started peace talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban and other militant groups across the restive northwestern tribal areas
in anticipation of an early withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, according to a media report on Monday.
The move is a critical step in the transition to full Afghan control by the end of 2014 as announced by US President Barack Obama at a NATO summit in Lisbon last year, a quoted its sources as saying.
Initial talks were opened with Pakistani Taliban and affiliated militants before a recent wave of terrorist attacks across Pakistan, the sources were quoted as saying.
Both sides were "putting up their respective demands and their terms and conditions" to end militancy in the tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the sources said.
The authorities have made it clear to the Taliban and other militants that al Qaeda will not be given any role "at any level in these negotiations", the sources said.
Some Pakistani tribal elders are mediating between security forces and leaders of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups, they said.
Before opening the talks, authorities withdrew their support to anti-Taliban militias, popularly known as "Qaumi Amn Lashkar" or peace committees, in different parts of the tribal areas.
This left the militias at the mercy of the Taliban and other militant groups.
The situation encouraged Taliban to settle scores with these militias through attacks like the one on a funeral in Adezai area near Peshawar on March 9 that killed 44 tribesmen.
The attack prompted the head of the Adezai militia, Dilawar Khan, to warn the government that his men would be forced to seek other alternatives if material and financial support from the government is not extended within two days.
The government chose to ignore these demands. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa`s Senior Minister Bashir Bilour, a top leader of the Awami National Party, reportedly told the media that such militias were no longer useful.
He said the government will hold talks with militia leaders regarding threats from the Taliban.
The government does not want to antagonise the militants or the militias to "keep its options open", the sources were quoted as saying. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government paid compensation to the families of victims of the suicide attack in Adezai but refused to extend material help to the militias.
The government does not want to annoy the Taliban by supporting their "enemies" and it does not want to lose support of the militias to maintain pressure on the Taliban, the sources said.
The official protest by Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez KAyani against the killing of 44 people in a US drone attack in North Waziristan Agency last week was an indication that the government does not want to derail the peace process with the Taliban, sources told the daily.
The NATO decision to pull out troops from Afghanistan from this year prompted Pakistan to go in for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and other militants, an official source said.
NATO defence ministers recently endorsed a plan to hand over responsibility for security in three cities, two provinces and much of Kabul to Afghan forces over the next few months.