Peshwar: A Pakistani Taliban spokesman on Monday
denied an earlier announcement by the militant group`s deputy
chief that it was holding peace talks with the government.
The conflicting claims are a clear sign of splits within
the movement, which could make it harder for Islamabad to
strike a deal to end the violent insurgency gripping the
country. At the same time, the cracks could make it easier to
suppress the insurgency militarily.
Pakistan`s conflict with its branch of the Taliban is
closely linked to the American-led war in neighboring
Afghanistan. Past informal cease-fires have made it easier for
Afghan militants sheltered by their Pakistani counterparts to
attack US forces across the border — making potential peace
talks between Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban a possible
cause of concern in Washington.
From Islamabad`s perspective, rising anger against the US
increases the incentive to cut a deal with the Pakistani
Taliban, as many blame the conflict on their government`s
alliance with Washington.
However, the government`s ability to negotiate with the
clandestine militant movement will be made vastly more
complicated by the Taliban`s murky command structure, and the
difficulty in telling whether commanders who say they are
willing to make peace actually have any authority on the
Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, who has been recognised by both
militants and officials as the deputy chief of the Pakistani
Taliban, said on Saturday that the group was in negotiations
with the government.
Mohammed, the first named commander to confirm talks,
said an agreement to end the country`s brutal four-year
insurgency was within striking distance.