Peace talks between Pakistan, Taliban faltering

A senior security official said Taliban had flatly rejected a demand that it work through tribal elders to reach a deal.

Islamabad: Exploratory peace talks between Pakistan and al Qaeda-linked Taliban insurgents have made little progress, a senior security official said on Thursday.

The official said the group, seen as the biggest security threat to the strategic US ally, had flatly rejected a demand that it work through tribal elders to reach a deal whereby fighters approach authorities and lay down their arms.

"They felt it would be humiliating," he said. "The talks are not making progress."

A total breakdown in talks, especially if it led to any new waves of Taliban suicide bombings or shootings, would likely make Pakistan`s civilian government -- accused of widespread corruption and ineptitude -- even more unpopular.

It would also add pressure on the Army in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed, strategic US ally with one of the world`s largest militaries.

The government is currently under severe pressure from the Supreme Court and Pakistan`s generals, who have ruled the country for more than half of its 64-year history through a series of coups, or from behind the scenes.

Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned a contempt hearing for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in a case that could push him from office.

Gilani was in court to explain why he should not be charged with contempt for failing to re-open old corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The government maintains Zardari has presidential immunity.

Bureau Report