Talks with Taliban at decisive phase: Report

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 23:37

Islamabad: Secret talks between Pakistani
security agencies and the local Taliban have entered a
"decisive" phase and both sides are hopeful it will lead to a
"lasting" agreement to restore peace in the country`s restive
northwestern tribal region, a media report said on Tuesday.

"We have drawn the broader outlines for a possible
accord. And what we`re now working on are minor details," an
unnamed intelligence official was quoted as saying by The
Express Tribune.

The results of the "year-long" peace process would be
unveiled shortly, the official said.

"Unlike the past, we are trying to have something workable
and implementable this time around," said the official,
referring to the failure of three previous agreements between
security institutions and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

"These are crucial times...we have to be extremely
careful. A slight miscalculation can harm us in a big way,"
the official said in an apparent reference to changes in the
regional war in view of the planned withdrawal of US-led
foreign forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

The military and the civilian government have denied
holding talks with the Taliban.

However, several Taliban factions recently came together
to form a `Shura` or council that said it would halt attacks
on Pakistani security forces and suicide bombings.

The TTP, which is part of the grouping, has said it will
continue attacking security forces while sparing innocent
civilians.

Senior TTP leaders confirmed that covert talks with the
military establishment were reaching a climax and said there
were several indications of things moving ahead.

Last month, TTP leader Maulvi Waliur Rehman Mehsud
ordered a halt to the training of suicide bombers at several
camps in South and North Waziristan, they said.

"Now look how effective this thing alone is?it has never
happened in four years that the TTP stops training its suicide
bombers," said Raqeebullah Mehsud, a young militant commander
from Ludha in South Waziristan Agency.

Raqeebullah claimed TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was not
aware of these talks.

"He (Hakimullah) is out. At least people here think so,"
Raqeebullah said.

A security official too confirmed that the military was
"rigorously chasing" Hakimullah and his small group into
Shawal Valley on the border between South and North
Waziristan.

Though it could not be confirmed, some officials said
Hakimullah might have crossed into Afghanistan after sudden
defections by his loyalists to pro-Pakistan militant groups
that have opposed launching attacks in the heartland.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 23:37

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